The iconic monarch butterfly is experiencing precipitous declines for many reasons: lack of habitat, GMOs (Genetically Modified Organism) that kill their host plant (milkweed) and logging in the Mexico sanctuary that is altering their overwintering space, for those that migrate. Overall, there is a 90% decline over a 20-year period. Here in Florida, we have monarchs year round.
You can help the species thrive by setting up a “monarch resort” in your yard. Their host plant is the milkweed – this is the only plant the adult monarch perches on to lay eggs and the only plant the caterpillars can eat. You can also plant nectar plants for them to drink but without milkweed you have a fast food restaurant only. Milkweed is powered by the sun and needs a sunny spot and some available water. Even though it’s “milkweed,” it needs care to really produce enough leaves. Caterpillars are hungrier than you can ever imagine. It’s not expensive to set up a habitat, and you and your family can continue the experience and fond memories you had as a child watching an egg become a caterpillar, a caterpillar becoming a chrysalis and a chrysalis hatching to a beautiful butterfly.
This is a blog written by Loree Bryer, with whom I swim in the Masters Division of the Aquatic Club of Temple Terrace. Loree is a devotee of Monarch butterflies and travels around the country to attend conferences on the Monarch butterfly. She has created a “monarch resort” in her yard in Temple Terrace, where she can cultivate her love of Monarch butterflies.
Read more about Monarch Butterflies here: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/uw311