In recent years, western populations of the monarch butterfly have declined by 99% and eastern populations have declined by 90%, putting their population numbers so low that their seasonal migration could collapse. California, which serves as the overwinter habitat for western monarchs, has been at a historic low of fewer than 29,000 butterflies for the past four years – a dramatic decrease from 1.2 million butterflies two decades prior. Given these facts, it should come as no surprise that the monarch butterfly is now an endangered species.
So how can you help? By planting milkweed at your residence! By having milkweed at your own home, you would create an ideal habitat for monarchs to migrate to in the winter and lay their eggs. This would also mean that in the springtime, your home could be a beautiful monarch nursery! The city has already taken the first step and planted milkweed at the community garden, but the more milkweed, the better. You can find milkweed seeds and plants at local nurseries.
It is important to note that milkweed can be toxic when high quantities are consumed. Because of this, it should be planted away from children and pets. Milkweed sap can also be a skin and eye irritant, so wear gloves and be mindful when working with the plant.