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Beat the Drought & Save Monarch Butterflies!

Beat the Drought & Save Monarch Butterflies!

ECOLIFE_042015Milkweed.004There is no more ubiquitous and iconic butterfly in North America than the monarch butterfly, Danaus plexippus. In recent decades, however, monarch butterfly populations have dramatically declined and now stand at less than 20% of the historical average.  Milkweeds in the genus Asclepias are host plants for monarch butterfly caterpillars and critical to their success. The loss of milkweed due to habitat fragmentation and agricultural practices throughout North America are key factors in the decline of both the Eastern and Western populations of monarchs.

To counter this historic loss of host plant, efforts are underway to restore milkweed within the migratory ranges of this majestic species. All of us can help by planting milkweed in our home gardens.

ECOLIFE_042015Milkweed.007When planting milkweed, it is very important to choose the appropriate type of milkweed for the region. Even though the tropical milkweed A. curassavica is readily available commercially, it is a poor choice for planting in any areas except those in which it naturally occurs.  Because it continues to grow and bloom year round, it can potentially cause disruptions in the migration behavior of monarchs. Native milkweeds, on the other hand, are regionally appropriate and because they senesce during the winter, they encourage the butterflies to continue their natural migration to their overwintering sites in Mexico and Central California. Since native milkweeds do not persist year round, they are also less likely to carry and transmit dangerous pathogens to monarchs.

We have found aquaponics to be a successful method for propagating milkweed. Presently, ECOLIFE is growing three California native species: Narrow leaf milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis), Showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa), and Indian milkweed (Asclepias eriocarpa), all of which are great for monarchs and excellent choices for planting in our Southern California gardens.
LaMonarcaECOLIFEECOLIFE has partnered with La Monarca Bakery to promote planting native milkweed.

Visit La Monarca Bakery on Earth Day, April 22, 2015 for a packet of native milkweed seeds, or donate $5 or more to ECOLIFE and we’ll send you a pack in the mail!