Are Monarchs Still Threatened?


Seem that they are even though in the last few years I have been seeing more and more of them in our area. Science has been monitoring the Monarch migration to Mexico and has found the number of butterflies migrating to Mexico has been dropping sharply. This past year there was a record low. The Monarchs in this post are shown on Common Milkweed, Asclepius syriaca. Too large a plant for my garden, I have butterfly weed or Asclepias tuberose.  It is a great nectar plant.  Asclepius incarnata, is the one known as swamp milkweed and does make a good garden plant in moist gardens.

There is no question that there are less Monarchs recorded, and the reasons why have been publicized over and over. The real question here is what can be done about it and do we even care?

I read a disturbing article from The New Yorker where a study asked people if they believe in Global Climate Change. To their surprise, more and more people recorded that they do. When asked why the change they noted with extreme dismay their drying, browning turf grass. They actually gauge climate change by the appearance of their lawns. You have to read this article. I just shook my head at the ignorance of some people caring that they may have to have lawns of gravel and cactus. Using this as a barometer, would these same individuals care if they ever saw a Monarch again?

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20 Responses to Are Monarchs Still Threatened?

  1. I read the same article and was shocked at the ignorance of how people judge climate change and what they care about….we have almost no monarchs here and only see a few usually in fall as they migrate south from Canada. There are virtually none reported going through the central NY area this year…and they used to as they migrated north. Now that I finally see more milkweed on roadsides and at the edges of fields, I hope they will come our way again. But I tend to think the reduction in milkweed, weather and use of chemicals on farms, homes and everywhere here more so than not is to blame for little to no monarchs.

    Do my neighbors care…no. They use chemicals and want nice lawns and shrubs….they don’t even want bees.

    • donna213 says:

      I am sad to hear you not seeing the Monarchs. Oddly we have been seeing them. There are quite a few places that have milkweed in our area, but that is no guarantee of seeing the caterpillars. Eggs are so tiny to see and baby caterpillars are like 1/4″ long, so they too are tough to find. I do hope to see them soon though munching milkweed.

  2. SAN_jeet says:

    Not a good news .. but post shows that you are curious for Butterflies
    Good post

  3. aussiebirder says:

    We use to see a lot more of these here in Australia years ago, but numbers appear to have dropped off also. We call them Brown Wanderers here. Maybe another reason is that when they are ‘over-wintering’ the trees that they use for clustering in have been removed, since by instinct they use the exact same trees every year for winter clusters, I know pesticides and habitat destruction make up the major reasons. Love your pics Donna they are really nice!

    • donna213 says:

      It has been noted in Mexico that deforestation has helped reduce the habitat for them to over-winter. In CA they are removing ecalyptus that serves the same purpose. As far as I know, not in the fog-mist area of the Monarchs yet. Individuals in CA are pretty intent in eradicating invasive and foreign species. Thank you. The butterflies move about a lot and to get them in one spot in a huge meadow sometimes is tough.

  4. If you look a little more closely, you’ll see that that article was satire. However, it does ring true. Just a couple weeks ago, a relative scoffed at climate change because we were having a summer barbecue on a day that happened to be very cool and rainy.

    • donna213 says:

      Really? It read true and is not too hard to believe because I have heard interviews of folks in CA complaining about having to resort to rock “lawns”. Certainly not a stretch to imagine the lawns being more important to them than all the world happenings as a result of changing climate. The “not in my backyard syndrome.”

  5. Lyle Krahn says:

    Those are wonderful shots of a beautiful creature. The amount of beauty there compared to a lawn is off the charts.

    • donna213 says:

      Thanks Lyle. The preserve where I took the photos is up next. It was newly acquired as a preservation site and is along the Niagara River, the meadows are stunning. Maybe I see your next post idea coming – off the charts beauty compared to the pathetic look of a clipped lawn. 😀 That is how I feel about the site they preserved. “Off the charts beauty.”

  6. We have been working hard through our cities, county governments, and through Washington state to support and provide more habitat for butterfly’s and it does make a difference. I see more butterfly’s when I hike and bike now. Sadly Seattle, Washington is one of the few locations where Monarch butterfly’s are not native…I would also add that the Evergreen State is now in a drought as a result of “global warming”.

    • donna213 says:

      I did hear you are having little rain from my friend in Seattle. It would be terrible if this becomes common place. I also heard how involved citizens are in your area. Here, I cannot say we have the same unfortunately.

  7. I read a post on Monarch Watch where the Director says he is optimistic about Monarch numbers recovering in the short term but is concerned about the longer term. Interestingly he is opposed to having the Monarchs declared an endangered species, not because he doesn’t think they are endangered but because he thinks it would be counterproductive. In this he is very much in the minority among conservationists, however.

    • donna213 says:

      I think what is keeping them off the endangered list in part, is that the Monarchs are being raised for release. This undoubtedly increases their numbers somewhat. I do believe the long-term is going to be the problem eventually.

  8. My Heartsong says:

    I used to see Monarchs in the east and rarely see them here in Alberta, and it causes a flurry of activity if one is spotted here, but this is not their normal range. Just the question “how do we see the effects of climate change” got me thinking.Could be the warmer weather, or we could look at the sharp rise in forest fires across the western provinces, the drop in the water levels, the rising food prices, the rapid melting of the mountain glaciers and the change in migration patterns of bird species as well as a drop in numbers.But if you are busy with your lawn you might not notice.Ew-w. Seriously though, would not the caretakers of lawns and gardens not see the bigger picture, since they attract butterflies and birds and bees as they plan next year’s design? Beautiful photos , Donna.

    • donna213 says:

      Thank you. I agree on what you see as clues to climate change. As a gardener I think I realized early we were in some sort of erratic weather pattern. I started back in 2010 noting weather change each year and showed winter five years in a row in one post. That was telling. Now it flipped and we are getting record snows. Something big is happening with all the rain in places and drought in others – places where neither was predominant. Oh well, what happens will happen and there is nothing we can do about it now.

  9. Annie says:

    In my small garden, Asclepias tuberose is perfect milkweed choice. This year I have added several of the Asclepias tuberose ‘Hello Yellow,’ a lovely addition to orange blooms. But I’m still waiting for my first monarch this summer. Very sad.

  10. Inger says:

    I did not know Monarch were threatened – I learn something new everyday.
    I had to check out the article. Is it actually real or is it only satire? If it is real it is quite concerning that people doesn’t care about climate before it hits their lawns…

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