Most of us have seen the brightly colored butterflies that land on flowers or fly around in a grassy field. The monarch butterfly is one of the most well-known and famous around the world for its difficult and impressive annual migration from North America to Mexico, but in recent years, fewer and fewer butterflies have returned.
A Closer Look: Butterflies
The Monarch Butterfly Cycle
Monarch butterflies undergo four distinct stages of development: egg, larval, pupal, and adult. The monarch caterpillar develops into a butterfly during these stages. Most entomologists refer to caterpillars as larvae.
Larvae molt several times before shedding their last skin and spinning a silk cocoon to mature in during the pupal stage. The monarch caterpillar has already begun to develop cells that will soon become wings, as well as other adult organs, at this stage. Before a mature adult butterfly emerges, the butterfly cycle takes about three to six weeks.
Monarch butterflies make an incredible 2,500-mile journey every year. While the journey may appear to belong, it is necessary for their survival. Monarch butterflies, unlike other butterflies, cannot survive the cold winters of Northern climates.
Are Monarch Butterflies Becoming Endangered?
Migration numbers have been declining over the last two decades, prompting some to fear that the monarch butterfly may become extinct. Scientists believe that it is the monarch butterfly's migratory behavior that is endangered, not the monarch butterfly itself.
Migration has a significant impact on the monarch's health. In fact, long-distance migration reduces parasite prevalence by removing infected animals from wild populations and resulting in healthier populations.
The Human Impact
Some conservationists are concerned that the monarch population will suffer as a result of dwindling food supplies and climate change. The US Fish and Wildlife Service has established a number of programs to assist in halting this population decline. Here are a few ways you can help save monarch butterflies at home:
1. Don’t Use Pesticides in Your Garden
Glyphosate, a herbicide that kills milkweed, is found in many pesticides. Milkweed is the only plant monarch larvae eat, and the only plant the monarch will lay its eggs in. The monarch butterfly would become extinct if milkweed were not present.
2. Plant Native Milkweed
It’s important to plant milkweed native to your area to promote biodiversity and encourage the natural migration pattern of monarch butterflies.
3. Help Reduce Climate Change
Seasonal temperature changes drive the migration of the Monarch butterfly, but changes in the weather cycle confuse the butterfly and disrupt the entire flight cycle. Not only is the migration threatened by colder winters and drier summers, but the butterfly's life may also be jeopardized due to changes in habitat and milkweed availability.
Rid-A-Bug Safe Pest Control
Monarch butterfly gardens are a beautiful addition to any property, as they allow monarch butterflies to lay their eggs during migration. Also, Monarch butterflies help flowering plants to reproduce through pollination while feeding on nectar.
To keep your butterfly garden beautiful and prevent pests from destroying your plants, use a professional safe pest control method. Rid-A-Bug is passionate about preserving the monarch butterfly population. That is why we use safe, environmentally friendly, and effective pest control methods for pests and insects. For more information, contact us today.