Each year North America’s Monarch butterfly migration begins in the spring and ends in the fall. It is one of the more unique and amazing phenomena in the insect world. The Monarch is the only butterfly known to make a two-way migration as birds do. As spring temperatures warm up and the days begin to get longer the “migratory” generation of Monarchs begin their long migration back to North America after overwintering in one small mountain range in Michoacán State, Mexico. Each successive generation will travel farther north and will take 3-4 generations to reach the Northern United States and Canada. Each generation lays their eggs on milkweed plants, then hatch into baby caterpillars, then pupate and then become beautiful butterflies. The milkweed plant is critical to their survival and it is the only plant that caterpillars will eat. Their diet of milkweed protects the vulnerable caterpillars as the toxicity of milkweed makes them an undesirable snack for birds or other predators. The 4th generation of Monarchs are a little different than the first 3 generations. The 4th generation (“migratory” generation) is born in September and October and does not die after the previous typical lifespans of 2-6 weeks, instead they will live for 6-8 months!
Monarch Migration Pattern
The yearly count of Monarch butterflies has been declining for decades. The long-term trends look terrible and current population numbers have fallen well below their extinction threshold. There is a direct correlation between Monarch numbers collapsing and a loss of their breeding habitat along with increased herbicide use. Monarchs have lost approximately 165 million acres of habitat due to heavily sprayed monoculture crops, such as corn and soybean, poor ranching practices and housing and business development spread. The decline in this species is a flashing red warning light to humanity. It is not just the loss of a beloved species of butterfly but much more. It is an indicator species that is showing human induced factors are collapsing ecosystems.
Monarch Butterfly Number Trends
With degrading ecosystems come many other factors that hurt human health such as soil degradation, erosion, mass flooding events and exacerbated effects of climate change. In addition, Monarchs are important pollinators that are needed to pollinate our crops along with other pollinators that are equally declining in numbers. This is a wake-up call to all of us to change our behaviors and better impact our environments that we depend on. Planting milkweed will help save the species, but we need bigger systemic change as well. Supporting those folks utilizing regenerative agriculture methods for producing our food will help turn the tide of degradation and habitat loss. We need a big movement to change our behaviors, but we can start today by taking up the challenge to save the Monarch. Do your part today and plant milkweed in your flowerbed, your flowerpots or yards, but also support companies that are using processes that work with nature instead of against it!
REP Provisions Monarch Mix
Our ranch (The DoubleP) is an official Monarch Waystation with Monarch Watch. Monarch habitats have been incorporated into the property to support their migrations.
BUT, you don't have to have a ranch to get involved. Just order a REP product and we will send you some Monarch Mix seeds that you could put in a pot, a flower bed or out on your property.
Monarchs will love our Monarch Mix with each of the native wildflowers and forbs carefully selected for your region and consists of beneficial species that will provide habitat for eggs and larvae of the Monarch then provide pollen and nectar for foraging pollinators throughout the growing season.