How We Can All Help Save Monarch Butterflies

An interview with conservationist Danielle Fox


Published:

According to the National Wildlife Federation, the population of monarch butterflies has declined by about 90 percent over the past 20 years. This loss of important pollinators is due in part to human-caused phenomena like climate change, habitat destruction, and pesticide use. After the early-summer National Pollinator Week highlighted efforts to support pollinating species, monarch conservation efforts continue to be important during the butterflies’ summer breeding and fall migration seasons.

The migration and breeding pathway millions of monarchs fly through twice a year is known as the Monarch Highway, and it’s made up of the six central U.S. states, from Minnesota to Texas, that have agreed to increase conservation and outreach efforts. Large portions of the Midwest, including the northern states on this route, were classified by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS) in 2015 as high-priority regions for conservation efforts. Missouri lies squarely in the middle of the Monarch Highway, and its north and central regions are within the FWS’s highest-priority areas. Last fall, the Missourians for Monarchs Collaborative, a statewide group that includes cities, conservation organizations, individuals, and corporations, pledged to create and maintain 19,000 acres of new pollinator habitat in Missouri every year until 2036.

As the community conservationist for the city of Columbia in mid-Missouri, Danielle Fox coordinates the city’s efforts to restore and preserve monarch habitat, including managing the city’s involvement in national monarch protection programs. Food Tank spoke with Fox to learn more about the importance of monarch butterflies and how we can help save them.

Food Tank (FT): What projects are you currently working with relating to monarchs? What conservation efforts are being taken at this point, either here in Columbia or nationally, to support habitat, migration, or survival?

Danielle Fox (DF): First, we have the Mayors’ Monarchs Pledge that the City of Columbia signed in October. [When] you sign the pledge, you agree to a certain number of action items that the National Wildlife Federation has listed. You can find all that on their website. The three action items that we have agreed to are to plant a monarch butterfly garden at City Hall, to increase our invasive species management operations, and to also help to do more education and outreach with nearby schools in Columbia. The first two things we have completed. The third, working with the schools, is something we are embarking on very soon.

We also have a grant from the 3M Corporation for a monarch butterfly habitat restoration project, so we have about US$25,000 to restore habitat for monarchs and other pollinating species at several different sites across the city.

In addition to the Mayors’ Monarchs [Pledge], we joined the Missourians for Monarchs Collaborative in October. That is a collaborative of different organizations, ranging from individual citizens all the way to corporations like Monsanto, cities, and various organizations of different sizes and capacities. It’s a collaborative of these groups working together to help conserve the monarch butterfly.

One of our bigger projects is our median and roundabout pollinator projects, so we’re working with our public works department and our office of sustainability, which I’m affiliated with. Here in Columbia, we have roundabouts that are very large, half an acre or more in size. It’s a lot of turf grass that needs to be mowed. As a way to decrease our greenhouse gas emissions as well as for us to save money and staff time—and to create some habitat—we are now in the process of converting those areas over to native planting. The one roundabout that we were able to complete this spring has milkweed and aster and liatris, or blazing star, and different native plants that support pollinating species and also add an aesthetic value to the community.

FT: How did we get to where we are today, with monarch populations decreasing?

DF: The ecological reason is that we’ve seen severe declines in their population numbers. Specifically looking at the monarch butterfly, their populations have declined from their original population by around 90 percent. One of the biggest concerns is habitat loss, and a lot of that comes from urbanization and modern agricultural practices. With roads and all these different structures, we’re breaking up the habitat, we’re depleting the habitat. We completely alter everything whenever we develop an area. By removing all of the vegetation and then scraping off the topsoil, which contains all the rich organic matter and the seed bank of all those plants that had existed in that area for thousands of years, we just basically wipe it all away and smooth it out and build on it.

And through our landscaping, we have introduced many plants that are from Asia or Africa that are not even native to North America, let alone Missouri. Those plants don’t have any natural competition—there are no insects here that recognize them as food—so they don’t eat them. These plants are just able to take over, which is why we chose improving our invasive species management operations as one of our pledge action items, because it’s so important for conserving habitat.

FT: Why is it important to support monarchs and other pollinators?

DF: The most direct reason is that they pollinate our food. Without them, we really are in bad shape. Lots of people don’t really think about it, but all of our crops that we eat, and all of the crops that our livestock eat, are all supported by pollinators.

FT: Even though the official National Pollinator Week is over, what are some things individuals can do to help monarchs on a regular basis?

DF: Plant native plants. Monarchs specifically rely upon milkweed as their host plant. Their caterpillar is a food specialist, a picky eater, so it only eats milkweed. The females, when they come to lay their eggs, they seek out the milkweed plant. If you want to help create more monarch butterflies, grow milkweed in your backyard. I live in an apartment, and I grow milkweed in a container on my back porch. So anywhere, any way, you can contribute in some way.

Jared Kaufman is a research and writing intern for Food Tank. A Minneapolis native, he’s currently working toward degrees in magazine journalism and international studies at the University of Missouri. He’s especially interested in food and public health reporting, and has worked at a variety of magazines, newspapers, public relations offices, and strategic communication firms. Jared enjoys travelling and biking, and at any given moment, he’s probably eating, cooking, reading or writing about food, or wishing he was doing one of those things.

This article was republished from Food Tank.

See also:
Turning Solar Sites Into Pollinator-Friendly Habitats Is The Sweetest Idea
Wild Bees Can Help Honey Bees—How Your Yard Can Support Them

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Daily Astrology

March 21, 2019

Good relationships are a lifeblood while Lady Luna visits Libra. However, the Cosmos has tricks up its sleeve. Venus, the Goddess of Love is in a testing square with Mars and also a soothing sextile with Jupiter. The prior aspect, exact before sunrise…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

March 2019

Sunday afternoon: 3–4:30pm at Hillside Herbals Spring Tonics II: the spring tonic herbs—it's about circulation, assimilation and elimination—tincturing. Rachel has...

Cost: Drop in Fee $10 includes all materials and handouts.

Where:
Hillside Herbals
Jefferson, MA


Sponsor: Hillside Herbals
Telephone: 508-847-8615
Contact Name: Rachel Ross
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
No Events

Show More...
Show Less...

March 20–23 9am-3pm each day Experience transformation guided by Mother Mary. Through Divine vibration, you will be aligned for quicker healing and evolving with mind body spirit and...

Cost: $500

Where:
, MA


Sponsor: The LoveLight Center
Telephone: (207) 216-9584
Contact Name: Cheryl Banfield

More information

The American Center for Bioregulatory Medicine and Dentistry (The BioMed Center) is the most comprehensive center in North America for bioregulatory medicine and dentistry. Come see what...

Cost: Free and open to the public

Where:
111 Chestnut Street
Providence, RI
View map »


Website »

More information

Discover how you can release tight muscles and improve range of motion in locked joints in a weekly ESSENTRICS stretch classes led by Raindrop Fisher, certified Essentrics instructor. Raindrop is a...

Cost: $10 drop-in / $100 for 12 classes

Where:
Village at Waterman Lake
Function Room - Chalet Bldg
715 Putnam Pike
Greenville, RI  02828
View map »


Sponsor: Healthier Fit Lifestyle
Telephone: 401-678-0950
Contact Name: Raindrop Fisher
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

This 8 week series in Tai Chi will provide you with everything you need to get started in a personal Tai Chi practice. Just for Beginners—there is no expectation, and no pressure in...

Cost: $137 for 8 weeks

Where:
Spiral Path Connections
218 Boston Street
Unit 104
Topsfield, MA  01983
View map »


Sponsor: The Spiral Path
Telephone: 978-314-4264
Contact Name: Johanna Hattendorf
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

“All we need is love” the Beatles claimed in 1960’s. In fact, we have been looking for love from the beginning of time. We are conditioned that it is love which brings us...

Cost: $35

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
386 Merrimack Street, Suite 1-A
Suite 1-A
Methuen, MA  01844
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
Website »

More information

“Master your breath, let the self be in bliss, contemplate on the sublime within you.” —Krishnamacharya Join us for an evening of deep exploration and transformation using the...

Cost: $30 (some hardship rates available)

Where:
Spontaneous Celebrations
45 Danforth Street
Jamaica Plain, MA  02130
View map »


Telephone: 617-233-6410
Contact Name: Allen Howell, M.Ed.LMHC
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Only $225 if you register for both days! Save $25! Please click here to register for both workshops. This is a 2 day course being held Saturday and Sunday, March 23...

Cost: $125

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
386 Merrimack Street, Suite 1-A
Suite 1-A
Methuen, MA  01844
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
Website »

More information

Former Buddhist monk and world renowned healer, Seth Monk, will be giving a Siddha Healing to our community. Seth will be accompanied by Shannon Fitzgerald, an AromaReiki Master for a beautiful...

Cost: $35

Where:
Sohum Yoga and Meditation Studio
30 Lyman Street, Suite 108B
Westborough Shopping Center
Westborough, MA  01581
View map »


Sponsor: www.SOHUM.org
Telephone: 508-329-3338
Contact Name: Ritu Kapur
Website »

More information

Former Buddhist monk and world renowned healer, Seth Monk, will be giving a Siddha healing to our community. Seth will be accompanied by Shannon Fitzgerald, an AromaReiki master for a beautiful...

Cost: $35 early-bird ($40 after 3/19)

Where:
Sohum Yoga and Meditation Studio
30 Lyman Street, Suite 108B
Westborough Shopping Center
Westborough, MA  01581
View map »


Sponsor: www.SOHUM.org
Telephone: 508-329-3338
Contact Name: Ritu Kapur
Website »

More information

In her art and spirit workshops, Melissa combines her gift as an intuitive with her extensive background in painting to help you to work through creative blocks and learn or refine technique. Come...

Cost: $150

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
386 Merrimack Street
Suite 1-A
Methuen, MA  01844
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
Website »

More information

Journey back into the experience of peace, harmony and inner power through this unique meditation practice. Explore the power of your thoughts and how they can bring you inner harmony and help you...

Cost: Free

Where:
Inner Space Meditation Center & Gallery
1110 Massachussetts Ave
Cambridge, MA
View map »


Telephone: 617-547-1110
Website »

More information

Psychics, mediums, angel readers, spirit art. Reiki, chair massage, IET, Gaiadon Heart, crystal healings, etc. Sign yourself up for a few appointments and bring your friends! Appointments...

Where:
Women Of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


Telephone: (508) 230-3680
Website »

More information

6 Saturdays 10am–11:30am February 23–March 30, 2019 Taijiquan (Tai Chi ) is a healing martial art, using breath and movement together to strengthen the body and quiet...

Cost: $120

Where:
Metta Wellness
679 Pleasant Street
Paxton, MA  01612
View map »


Sponsor: Metta Wellness
Telephone: 774-245-5487
Contact Name: Rick Rocha
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags