Menu Close

Mad MaxIn one of my columns last summer we discussed the declining population of Monarch Butterflies and how we could all help in efforts to revive it.

The report from the Monarch’s winter resting grounds was, once again, very disappointing. The population of butterflies was estimated to have declined about 26 percent from the previous year.

The main factors causing the decline are habitat loss, climate change and increased use of herbicides. In Mexico, their winter grounds are shrinking due to illegal logging. In all of their native areas, real estate development is destroying their natural habitats.

Severe weather events, such as the recent winter storms that devastated Texas, hurt their chances of finding food and nesting areas along their migration paths. Our general obsession with perfect lawns and weedless gardens fuels the use of chemicals that are toxic to these delicate creatures.

Whether it’s putting in a new butterfly garden, incorporating plants for nesting and feeding in an existing garden or simply placing a pot on your deck; your contribution will support all of our invaluable pollinators.

In general, choose a sunny spot, butterflies need sun to warm up and most milkweed and plants that supply nectar require full sun. A few flat rocks placed amongst the plantings will serve as great basking spots for these sun loving creatures. Choose a spot for your plantings that has some sort of windbreak as the butterflies prefer to be sheltered from the wind. Plant selection is very important with native plants being the best choice, check out the plantnative.org website for help in making your selections.

If you’re purchasing plants from nurseries as opposed to planting from seed, ask the grower if they use systematic pesticides as they can be detrimental to pollinators. Use a variety of plants that bloom at different times so that there will be food from spring through the fall. Butterflies are attracted to large splashes of color, especially red, orange, purple and yellow.

Finally, weed by hand and avoid the use of chemicals.

All of this may sound like a lot, but once your garden is established, it should be relatively low maintenance because native plants are hardier, require less tending and are either perennial or reseed themselves.

They were very good about concentrating on the intersections and a narrower swath along the road rather than mowing down entire breeding and feeding grounds. This is a win, win approach as it cuts back on the costs of manpower, equipment and fuel, and is a positive move for the environment and all its creatures.

Thanks for doing your part, the Monarchs, the honey bees and all of other pollinators are in serious need of our efforts, large and small.

Shelter needs: Canned dog food, bully sticks, hot dogs, cream cheese, cheese sticks, cat litter, pet carriers, paper towels, and gift cards for pet supply and grocery outlets.

To submit an adoption form for one of the Pets of the Week or another animal at the shelter, visit https://southjerseyregionalanimalshelter.org

Source: South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter: Let’s help the Monarch Butterflies

Posted in 2021, SJRAS Articles