Updated: Aug 4
Last week the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) listed the monarch butterfly as endangered due to loss of habitat and increased use of herbicides and pesticides, as well as climate change. Although heartbreaking, this is not surprising to naturalists and butterfly aficionados as scientists have documented monarch butterfly numbers dwindle drastically over the last decades. This also doesn’t mean that the butterflies are listed as federally endangered in the United States, and butterfly advocates hope these incredible migrating beauties can get on the list by 2024 to protect their habitat from industry and other human-related stressors as much as legally possible.
The monarch population problem is complicated as it is a species that migrates from Canada through the United States to the state of Michoacan in central Mexico. It often takes the butterflies multiple generations to complete the trip, and they depend on safe and nutritious habitats throughout their journey. Monarchs need pesticide-free host plants to lay their eggs on (mostly milkweed species), pesticide-free native plant nectar sources (for food), moisture (to rest and take a drink), and safe forests when they arrive in Mexico for overwintering, which are currently at risk from logging and fires in the region.
There are many amazing ecological restoration, advocacy, and conservation groups working on these issues in our region, but we want to highlight the work of the regional non-profit Southwest Monarch Study for focusing on Monarch data collection and habitat restoration in the southwest. They have put together multiple regional resources for helping monarchs including how to create a monarch waystation and excellent planting guides.
We’ve created our own monarch butterfly plant and seed collection that shows all the seeds and container plants we offer that are beneficial for monarch butterflies and help a lot of other pollinators while supporting biodiversity. All Borderlands Nursery & Seed seeds and container plants are sourced regionally, pollinator safe, and grown without pesticides.
As Borderlands Restoration Network works to create biodiverse habitats in vast open wilderness, you can help save these iconic and beautiful butterflies from extinction by planting monarch supportive habitat in your own yard.