People ask me why I like butterflies, expecting a reply similar to "oh, they resemble transformation, beauty, freedom, etc." The truth is, I love butterflies because they are an indication of our environment. When I see them thriving in my backyard, it gives me hope for a better tomorrow and assurance I am at least trying.
Spring 2014 was the first time I heard about the Monarch butterflies alarming decline of approx. 90% in the last twenty years. Pesticide resistant crops, habitat loss and climate change were stated to be the culprits.
I never paid much attention to these little pollinators but I am a firm believer that we should help make a difference any opportunity we get. In this case is came as free milkweed seeds that I received from an organization that encourages the public to help the monarch population.
So here I was with the seeds in my hand, wondering and questioning how this could possibly have an impact. Let me just stop here and say I didn't have a clue what was about to happen. I started to read up on these butterflies and one article stated Monarchs can smell milkweed up to twenty miles away and the seeds I planted did turn my ordinary suburban yard into Monarch Mecca.
My family and I spent the summer witnessing many of these beautiful creatures laying eggs, watched the eggs turn into caterpillars demolishing the plants completely and watched them transform into a gold spotted chrysalis. The excitement was at it's peak whenever we got to watch a brand new monarch emerge and see it taking off into the sky once it's wings were dry.
As parents we tend to preach to our kids of what they should and shouldn't do but I strongly believe our actions will always resonate with them. My children experienced first hand of how something as tiny as a seed can make a difference. We gave the Monarchs a home and they gave us hours of astonishing moments. They have since returned every year.
If you decide to plant a seed, here are just a few trips that have helped along the way. I was NOT born a butterfly whisperer, although some of my friends will tell you I am.
If you already have tropical milkweed, make sure you cut it down in the fall as this plant can carry the parasite "OE" which is fatal to the butterfly.
I would like to finish with saying every little thing you do can change the world for the better, it's up to you to decide.