How to Help
The magic and mystery of the monarch migration has charmed and captivated people for years. Unfortunately, the phenomenon of the annual Monarch migration is endangered. The eastern population is being severely impacted by deforestation in its Mexican overwintering grounds and the western monarchs are being squeezed by the constant pressures of coastal development and dwindling open space. Both populations have experienced a decrease in numbers due to lack of milkweed necessary as a food source for the larval stage.
Here’s how you can help protect the monarchs and their migration:
Plant milkweed! Monarch caterpillars need the milkweed plant (in the genus Asclepias) to grow and develop into butterflies. The caterpillars eat and grow rapidly, increasing their weight almost 3,000 times in 10-15 days! Milkweed leaves contain toxins that the monarch caterpillars accumulate in their bodies. By the time they change into adult butterflies, they have enough toxin to make them taste unpleasant to their predators, and this helps the monarch butterflies to survive. But, remember, these plants are food for the insects so do not use pesticides or other harsh chemicals.
Plant butterfly nectar plants! Monarchs need nectar to provide energy as they breed, for their migratory journey, and to build reserves for the long winter. Include butterfly plants in your garden. Monarchs like sunflowers, black-eyed Susans, goldenrod, butterfly bush and purple coneflowers (Echinacea). Remember, these plants are food for the insects so do not use pesticides or other harsh chemicals.
Encourage public and private land managers to create monarch habitat! Roadsides and parks of all sizes offer great opportunities to create and preserve habitat for monarchs. When development threatens existing habitat, think creatively. The Monarch Dunes Butterfly Habitat is an example of the way in which development and conservation can work together to protect this natural wonder.
Join citizen-science efforts to track the monarch populations! See our links to find out ways you can be involved in the monarch data collection by citizen scientists across the country. Scientists rely on data collected by volunteers to help them decipher population trends and habitat changes.
Support monarch conservation efforts! The Monarch Dunes Butterfly Habitat is supported by an endowment created and managed by the Woodlands Master Association here at Trilogy at Monarch Dunes. But there are a number of other monarch conservation efforts underway which are doing very good work and need your help. Please support these monarch conservation programs!
Visit an overwintering site! The Central Coast of California welcomes overwintering monarchs at several public sites from November through March each year. Come and view this magical insect in its natural setting and help preserve the migration of the monarchs for future generations.
Last updated 24 May 2013.