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04 Apr

My recent Blog was about the worrisome loss of monarch butterflies, a very important pollinator.  According to an online brochure produced on www.epa.gov, “Approximately 1 out of every 3 bites of food you eat comes from the work of a pollinating animal, including many garden fruits and vegetables Pollinators are also vital for the production of seeds for the next generation for many plant species. Many blooming plants depend upon pollination for their survival.”  I’m certainly concerned about this and hope you are too.  But what can we do?

Monarchs must have milkweed plants to breed – it’s the one and only host plant for monarch caterpillars.  The plant also supplies nectar for adult butterflies.   Milkweed grows naturally in grasslands of the Midwest, but that habitat is disappearing faster than any other ecosystem in North America, according to an executive with National Wildlife Federation’s Action Fund.  Intensifying agriculture, development of rural areas and the use of mowing and herbicides have been the cause of drastic milkweed reduction. 

Each of us can help this dilemma, however, by making it a goal to plant milkweed plants in our own gardens this spring.  We maintained two different patches of milkweed in our gardens last year and were thrilled to see six monarch caterpillars munch away at the leaves!   I say ‘maintained’ or managed the milkweed patches because they can certainly overtake a garden.  But in the long run, it gave us great pleasure to know that we did our part in helping restore at least a few of these beautiful and very important pollinators. 

In my next Blog, Native Milkweeds for Monarchs, I will share the names of some of the more common milkweed plants that can be grown in the Midwest.  If you are not located in the Midwest, I encourage you to check out which ones grow best in your area.  Do it for the monarch!


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