This week I had one monarch butterfly checking out butterfly weed in my Minneapolis yard. Last week I spotted one monarch in Northern Wisconsin. It is sad that we get excited counting our famous butterflies in the quantities of one.
Hopefully, a new program by announced by the White House will help get our monarch butterflies back on track. See article: http://www.startribune.com/calling-all-milkweed-federal-pollinator-plan-needs-a-billion-plants-for-monarchs/306383591/
We can all help:
1. Plant milkweed. Most garden stores still do not carry milkweed. Seeds are available, but not the best option. I transplant plants from friends gardens. Ask major garden stores to carry milkweed plants.
2 Please do not use Roundup or neonicotinoids, and always ask if the plants you purchase have been treated with neonicotinoids.
3. Inform yourself on host plants for butterflies http://www.ecosystemgardening.com/host-plants-for-butterflies.html
4. Never pick off fuzz or little spots on plants. These could be eggs
The new farm bill has passed. Does the farm bill do anything to protect our pollinators?*** When I travel through the heartland of the United States, even Kansas and Missouri, I see mostly fields of corn and soybeans which they often irrigate, and require the use heavy herbicides. Wheat production which is better for our earth has become a minor player!! Below a monarch expert offers her ideas.
This is a quote from monarch expert, Karen Oberhauser, of the Universtiy of Minnesota:
The vast majority of monarchs that arrive in Mexico grew up eating milkweed in the United States and Canada, according to Karen Oberhauser, professor at the University of Minnesota who has studied the monarch for more than 30 years, and is a leading scientist on this butterfly. “Numerous lines of evidence demonstrate that the Corn Belt in the US Midwest is the primary source for monarchs hibernating in Mexico,” said Oberhauser. Large part of the monarchs’ reproductive habitat in this region has been lost to changing agricultural practices, namely an explosion in the use of crops that allow post-emergence treatment with herbicides. “These genetically modified crops have resulted in the extermination of milkweed from many agricultural habitats,” added Oberhauser.
What can we all do? Controlling farmers is impossible, but in our yards there are a few things we can do to have a healthier yard.
*Reduce your use of chemicals by reducing your lawn just a small amount and plant milkweed, liatris, coneflowers, butterfly weed, and menardia (bee balm) or for shade heart leaf asters or wild geraniums. http://findnativeplants.com/
*Do not support GMO products, but purchase organic products
*Never never use lawn products that contain Neonicotinoids.
*By helping to save butterflies we help all pollinators, AND we help the health of our families. Following is a great article on ways to have a healthy yard: http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/homegarden/243547751.html
***From the Union of Concerned Scientist on the just passed farm bill:
“While the local foods and organic programs fared well in this farm bill, the USDA’s conservation programs didn’t make out as well. With our “healthy farm vision,” UCS advocated for increased funding for programs like the Conservation Stewardship Program, which provide incentives for farmers to prevent water pollution, plant cover crops, and preserve wildlife habitat. Unfortunately, these programs have been cut by $6.1 billion, or 9.5 percent over 10 years. “(The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition)