By Barb Elliot
“The lowest numbers of Monarchs ever recorded”
“Monarch migration at risk of disappearing”
This is the devastating news about Monarchs over-wintering in Mexico. These Monarchs migrated last fall from eastern portions of the U.S. and Canada to reach their historic Mexican wintering grounds. Each year scientists count the number of acres of trees where the Monarchs cluster during their winter stay in Mexico. This winter Monarchs covered just 1.7 acres — a significant decline from the previous low of 2.9 acres.
Male Monarch in Barb’s yard. Photo © Barb Elliot
Loss of milkweed is the primary reason for the steep decline in Monarch numbers. Milkweeds are the only plant Monarch caterpillars can eat. Millions of acres of milkweed habitat have disappeared in the mid-west due to the use of genetically modified (GMO) corn and soy crops. Farmers spray their fields with Roundup, and the crops survive. However, this herbicide kills the other plants like milkweed that previously grew in and around crops. Since these Roundup Ready crops came into use over the last 15 years, almost 80% of milkweeds in the mid-west have disappeared. Monarch population decreases have correlated in lock step with the loss of milkweed. Milkweed habitat is also lost due to development and mowing of roadsides. Extreme weather over the past few years in Mexico, the U.S. and Canada has also contributed to Monarch losses. Cold snaps, heat waves, droughts and heavy rains have also taken a toll on the Monarchs and milkweeds.
Monarch laying egg on Butterfly Milkweed. Photo @ Barb Elliot.
As a result, last summer we Monarch-lovers saw few, if any, Monarchs. With these steep declines, we’ll surely see even fewer this summer. However, Monarch experts say that the Monarch population can bounce back – probably not to the high levels of the 1990s, but to a lower “new normal”. To improve their numbers, Monarchs need MORE milkweed.
That’s where we come in. We Monarch-lovers must plant more milkweeds this year. The Monarchs, fewer in numbers now, will need quantities of milkweeds to find the plants easily and lay their eggs. Also, milkweeds are very important plants in the web of life and provide high quality nectar for a variety of other important pollinators.
Monarch caterpillar on Barb’s Swamp Milkweed. Photo © Barb Elliot.
Let’s keep the welcome mat out for Monarchs! To that end, we are selling Butterfly Milkweed and Swamp Milkweed this year for only $2 a plant. Plant some milkweeds to help the Monarchs. If you already have some, plant even more! Plant them in containers, too. Talk to family, friends, and neighbors about the need. Get permission to plant them at a community park, church, business, roadway, or open space, too.
Now is the time for YOU to help the beautiful Monarchs survive for generations to come.
Milkweed Sale Information
Cost: $2 per plant. Cash only. Money collected above our actual costs will be donated to Monarch Joint Venture, a partnership of organizations working to conserve the monarch migration.
Plants Description: Plants are landscape plugs with well-developed (about 5”) root systems. When in bloom, they look like this:
Butterfly Milkweed Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) (Asclepias incarnata)
Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)
Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) Photo © Barb Elliot.
Minimum Order: 5 plants of one species only. That is, 5 Butterfly Milkweed or 5 Swamp Milkweed. Not 3 of one species and 2 of the other.
Number of Plants: Plants will be sold in multiples of 5 per species only, e.g. 10, 15, 30
Maximum Order: None. However, supplies depend on availability from our wholesaler. Plants will be reserved based on the order in which orders are received.
Order Deadline: Orders must be received no later than April 30, 2014..
Pickup Date & Time: Saturday, May 31st, 2014 – 10 AM to 3 PM. Sorry, no alternate pickup times can be arranged.
Pickup Location: Roberts Elementary School, 889 Croton Rd, Wayne, PA 19087 For Directions, click here
General Planting Recommendations:
1. Plant in clusters, preferably at least 5 plants per cluster to attract passing Monarchs.
2. Plant 12” apart.
3. For more detailed planting instructions and other ways to help Monarchs, click title: Planting and Caring for Your Milkweeds.*
If you have any problems ordering or questions, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Order Confirmation: You will receive a confirmation email within 7 days from email@example.com. Please set your email filter to accept email from this address. If you do not get a confirmation email within 7 days, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org