Monarch butterflies have officially been declared endangered.  There are ways you can help this species here at home.

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Monarch Butterflies Are Endangered

According to a report from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (the IUCN) they have officially placed these brightly colored butterflies on the endangered list saying:

The migratory monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus plexippus), known for its spectacular annual journey of up to 4,000 kilometres across the Americas, has entered the IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM as Endangered, threatened by habitat destruction and climate change. All surviving sturgeon species – also migratory, found across the northern hemisphere – are now at risk of extinction due to dams and poaching, pushing the world’s most Critically Endangered group of animals yet closer to the brink.

Monarch with caterpillar
Cathy Keifer

Brightly Colored Memories

I've always thought butterflies were beautiful, but I've always had a soft spot for Monarch butterflies.  I remember in school I had a teacher who got  Monarch caterpillars, and we watched as the caterpillars formed their chrysalis and then waited with anticipation for the beautiful orange and black-winged Monarch butterflies to emerge.  I remember taking the butterflies outside to be released once they emerged.  It was such a cool hands-on lesson, that I remember to this day.   So when I heard about them being on the endangered list, it definitely bummed me out, but there is hope and ways we can help our butterfly friends! 

Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) on Swamp Milkweed Wildflower

Ways to Help Monarch Butterflies Locally

The good news is, that there are ways that we can help the Monarch population locally. One of the easiest ways you can help butterflies is by planting milkweed.

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Mesker Park Zoo in Evansville shared a really informative post on their Facebook page about Monarch butterflies.  They spoke with their Botanical Curator who shared ways people locally can help out Monarchs, here's what their post said:

Our Botanical Curator Misty talked this week about the concern for all butterflies as we have seen a decline even at the zoo.
Misty said each species of butterflies have a host plant that attracts them. Having flowers will attract butterflies, but having their host plants will allow these species to thrive! They use the nectar from other flowers, but host plants are essential for metamorphosis and it will also attract them to your garden .Monarch's host plant is a milkweed!
The decline is caused from illegal/legal logging. The increased use of pesticides/herbicides in agricultural kills butterflies and milkweed plants.
Misty said there is hope, you at home can source these host plants for butterflies and refrain from using dangerous pesticides. Some of these plants can be found at our annual plant sale (which happens the first weekend in May every year). You can also find these plants at local greenhouses and native plant sales in our area.

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