Oh, watching the flight of a Monarch butterfly, flittering from flower to flower, is such joy; but it a joy that could disappear if we don’t do anything to help the butterflies out. Like honeybees, they are natural pollinators, and like honeybees are being killed off. If this trend, both in butterflies and in honeybees, not only will we lose some of the beauty that is in nature, we will lose the natural way of growing our food.
There has been a decline of 90% of the Monarchs in the last two decades. Some of the reason being the frosts in Mexico where they winter; but more so genetic grown crops, herbicides such as Roundup that is wiping out plants like milkweed, the loss of prairie and wetlands. In short, We are killing them off by starvation and outright poison.
The government has offered a plan to help reverse the decline in Monarchs and indirectly help out the honeybees, plant prairie flowers, such as milkweed, along the I-35 Highway corridor, 1,500 miles from Minnesota to Texas, the route taken by Monarchs migrating to the winter home in Mexico. It will not only be a needed food source in their flight, it will provide shelter also.
Oh, not to mention a restoration of some of the prairie beauty the pioneers experienced in their migration across our country. And the price will be but a drop in the bucket to conjuring up yet another weapon of destruction.
The following is an article I wrote a few years back .
Published: St. Paul Pioneer Press – 1/4/20/11
The Old Hand:
Our oldest grandchild, Erik, has worked summers at Como Park Zoo, first as a volunteer, then as an intern. The past summer Erik led tours of the butterfly exhibit. One day, he and I got to talking about the monarch butterflies’ migration and the freeze in the Mariposa Reserve in Mexico killed off a large number of the butterflies. I pointed out the various places around my land where I had patches of milkweed plants for the Monarchs.
One of Erik’s college professors wanted his students to write an essay on something they could do to improve our world. For the most part, the students wrote of great pie-in-the-sky projects like stopping war, doing away with hunger, etc.. Erik’s project wasn’t so grandiose. He suggested that the college plant patches of milkweed on campus to help propagate monarch butterflies. The professor liked both the project and the fact that it was something that could be accomplished. He encouraged Erik to get the project underway. The school officials liked the idea and encouraged Erik to work out the details.
When Erik called me with the good news, he asked if I had any ideas where to get milkweed seeds or seedlings. I suggested a greenhouse or a seed company that specialized in plants for prairie restoration. We discussed the concept of restoring the original prairie that were native to Minnesota, plants and flowers that have been replaced by the grasses in lawns, pastures, golf courses, all alien grasses that need an enormous amount of water to survive in Minnesota.
Today Erik called me to tell me the good news. The school is buying milkweed seeds along with other seeds of prairie plants in the prairie garden they are going to plant in the spring. Erik might never change the world but he will make it a better place to live if he has his way.
It’s so great to be a grandparent. The pride my wife and I take in our five children is increased as we watch how our children raise their children.
Today, Erik has his degree in Marine Biology and is currently working with manta rays and sharks. Here’s an earlier post of mine concerning Erik, which you might enjoy: BEHIND THE GLASS