In a recent article published KQED out of San Francisco, California, research has shown that each year, fewer monarchs have been showing up to overwinter on the Californian coast. According to preliminary numbers from the Xerces Society, an environmental conservation nonprofit, the group’s annual Thanksgiving count found the 2018 population of these butterflies is down to 20,456 compared to 2017’s 148,000. That’s a one year, 86 percent decline.
“We think that it has to do with habitat loss, the increasing high use of pesticides and the loss of the milkweed populations, which is the plant the monarch needs to lay its eggs on,” said Mia Monroe, a Bay Area-based Xerces Society member.
How can you help?
- Boost conservation efforts in places where monarchs live, breed and overwinter.
- Reduce pesticide and insecticide use.
- Grow native plants that attract monarchs.
What are some plants that attract monarch butterflies?
Native milkweed is the preferred host plant for monarchs. However, there are many other nectar plants that attract these butterflies. The Xerces Society, in partnership with the National Wildlife Federation and Monarch Joint Venture, developed regional monarch-specific nectar plant guides for the continental US.
Monarchs need nectar from a variety of sources and aren’t limited to nectar-producing plants. Horticulture Magazine’s list of trees, shrubs and woody vines is a great place to start your research. These may help attract monarch, and other butterflies, to your landscape.
Monarch butterflies clustered on a tree – Dagmar Collins/flickr