Wednesday, February 06, 2019
Could The Monarch Butterfly Be Making a Comeback?
I remember wading ashore six years ago, at a place called Gibraltar Point on the Toronto Islands, and coming across an amazing sight.
Thousands of monarch butterflies clustered on a couple of trees getting ready to fly south across Lake Ontario.
What made it even more special, was that I had helped expand a milkweed patch nearby, and I thought this was my reward.
But then the next year I hardly saw a monarch anywhere.
Just a few solitary individuals preparing to make the long flight over the lake by themselves, or in the company of one or two others.
And the same thing happened every year since.
So imagine how happy I was to see this.
The number of monarch butterflies wintering in Mexico is at its largest in at least 10 years, raising hope for the colourful but endangered insect.
Monarchs spread out across southern Canada and the United States in summer, but their descendants all return to a tiny patch of high-altitude fir forest in Mexico in the winter.
This winter, the area is about six hectares, more than double the size of last year’s population.
Sadly, the little winged wonders are not home free. They are still in danger of going extinct, thanks to pesticides, habitat destruction, and the effects of climate change.
But you can do your part to help them, by demanding that farmers reduce their use of pesticides, and by planting more milkweed.
As well as other native plants with flowers the monarchs enjoy feeding on. Like the ones in this butterfly garden not far from where I live.
So you might be as lucky as I was, when I came ashore one balmy late summer afternoon, came across one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen.
And made this little video...
Hurry back summer.
And my beautiful little winged wonders...