For each of these states the spectacular monarch is the official state butterfly or insect. But there is concern this beloved butterfly may be going extinct. In 2013 there was over a 90% decline in this iconic and beautiful migrating butterfly. The alarms went off in gardens all over America last year as we waited to see the flashes of orange alight on our milkweed plants, feed on the nectar and lay their eggs. The monarch caterpillar eats only milkweed plants and gardeners aware of this often grow them as beacons of life and feeding stations for the millions of monarchs summering in North America so the next generation has the energy to fly back to Mexico to over-winter.
My wife Lynette allows hundreds of perennial milkweed plants (common milkweed: Asclepias syriaca) to grow every year and dominate our front garden. This year we waited and waited, but not one of the regal butterflies appeared. We wondered what was going on?
Then we read this article in November and our worst fears were confirmed. The count of monarchs migrating to the forests of central Mexico for the winter was down by 95%. Rather than millions arriving in early November announcing the time to harvest corn the butterflies were late and in never-before-seen small numbers. Read the rest of this entry »