Proper wetland care can help save monarch butterflies

Do you remember the first time you marveled at a monarch butterfly? From the green chrysalis with delicate golden dots to the brilliant orange and black adult, monarchs have been a source of wonder for generations.

Yet because of habitat loss and land use changes, monarch populations are in trouble. Monarch populations have dropped by 90% in the past 20 years. Causes of this include loss of crucial overwintering sites in Mexico, expanding urban development and the modernization of agricultural practices in the United States.

Monarch caterpillars feed on only one type of plant: milkweed. Historically, milkweed has been considered a weed, and people have become very adept at keeping it out of agricultural fields. Less milkweed means less habitat for monarchs, especially during the long migration from Mexico.

Ideal habitat for monarchs includes:

A mix of native flowers with different bloom times, including some overlap in flowering, to ensure a stable food source for butterflies

A combination of early, middle and late blooming species will fuel butterfly breeding and migration

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