Summer’s here and “The Garden View” is taking a look at all aspects of working in the mud. This week, how the decline of monarchs can effect your plants.
Every fall monarch butterflies migrate from the United States and Canada to California and Mexico. Their population is rapidly declining, however, due to the decline of milkweed and nectar sources along their route. The major contributors to this problem are development and the use of herbicides. 90 percent of milkweed and monarch habitats occur within agricultural landscape. As a result, farm practices strongly influence the monarch population.
Three things contribute greatly to the decline in monarch butterfly population: development, genetically modified crops and roadside management.
Development – The U.S. is consuming the monarch habitat at a rate of 6,000 acres per day through land development.
Genetically modified crops – The development of crops that resist glyphosate (Roundup®) allows farmers to spray with herbicides instead of tilling to control weeds. Milkweed can survive tilling, but not glyphosate. Croplands represent more than 30 percent of the summer breeding area for monarchs.
Roadside management – The use of herbicides and frequent mowing has converted the monarch habitat to grassland.
What can you do? Consider planting milkweed in your garden or establish a monarch way station in your backyard.
Planting general nectar plants is helpful also. Those plants include Joe Pye Weed, zinnias, dahlias and purple coneflower. Our efforts can contribute to monarch preservation and help continue their spectacular migration phenomenon.
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