The Monarchs Need You!
I spent some of the last weekend in lovely Santa Cruz. We have a son attending the UC there, so periodically my husband and I get to zip over the mountain for a kid fix. This past weekend, after a fun lunch and a pantry-stocking trip through Trader Joes, our son suggested a trip to Natural Bridges State Park to see the monarch butterflies that are overwintering there. It was troubling to see such a small number of butterflies. The ranger told us that though there were only around ten thousand, that number is actually up from last year. Years ago, however, the numbers were in the hundreds of thousands range. As bad as it is here, the East Coast migration is in worse shape. The ranger said this is due to heavy planting of soybeans and corn that are Round-Up ready. That means the seeds are modified to be resistant to the active ingredient in Round-Up called glyphosate. Since the crops are resistant to glyphosate, more is being sprayed thus killing more of the butterflies host plant - milkweed. I know it is a small step but I am planting milkweed in my garden, lots of it. I had such fun this summer and early fall seeing Gulf Fritillaries on my passion vine. Maybe next year I will have monarchs in the yard as well. If you feel as motivated to plant for monarchs - and they really need our help - check out Annie's Annuals for two milkweeds (Asclepias curassavica and Asclepias curassavica 'Silk Gold') that are available now. You can also look up Monarch Watch for ideas on helping the monarchs survive.
Asclepias curassavica growing happily. (Photo by Teresa Lavell)