Ways to Protect the Monarch Butterfly

Monarch Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) feeding on flower as the monarch butterfly is in decline and there are ways to protect the monarch butterfly

July 14, 2021

The monarch butterfly has been in decline these past two decades, and we need to protect the this species. This decline is due to habitat loss, climate change and due to the use of pesticides. The monarch butterfly is also known as the milkweed butterfly. As part of the monarch’s habitat loss is the loss of the milkweed in agriculture fields due to the use of pesticides. This loss of milkweed is a major reason why the this butterfly is in decline. We must find ways to protect the monarch butterfly.

A pair of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) mating on thistle bloom needs protecting from loss of habitat.
A pair of monarch butterflies mating on thistle flower in the Butterfly House at the Norfolk Botanical Garden in Norfolk, Virginia.

Facts About the Monarch Butterfly

It is one of the most common and most recognizable butterflies in North America. Its wing markings include black, orange, and white patterns which makes it easily recognizable. Their wing span is about 3-4 inches. These large popular butterflies are a long-distance migrators and often find their way to Mexico during the winter.

The male and female monarchs look very similar to each other. They are only differentiated by the male monarch having thinner black veins and two small black spots on the lower back wings. In addition, the monarch butterfly is hard to distinguish from the similar color and markings of the viceroy butterfly. The difference between these two insect species is that the monarch is significantly larger and does not have the black line across the bottom of the hind wings as the viceroy does.

Male monarch (Danaus plexippus) with monarch caterpillar on leaf of butterfly weed in the Butterfly House at the Norfolk Botanical Garden in Norfolk, Virginia.
Male monarch butterfly with monarch caterpillar on leaf of butterfly weed. This butterfly displays the black spot on lower hind wing which indicated this monarch is a male.

Threats to the Monarch Butterfly

A special concern for the decline in this butterfly is due to the many changes in our climate. In the monarch’s overwintering habitats, the increasing amounts of severe weather such as droughts, wildfires and severe storms have impacted the monarch butterflies ability to survive.

In addition, deforestation is a threat to the survival of the monarch. The continued amount of logging and even the falling down of trees have diminished the monarch butterfly’s ability to migrate, therefore, affecting their ability to mate and to increase their population.

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) perched on a flower is in decline and there are ways to protect the monarch butterfly.
Monarch butterfly perched on a flower in backlighting on a summer evening n the Butterfly House at the Norfolk Botanical Garden in Norfolk, Virginia.

Ways to Protect the Monarch Butterfly

One of the best ways to protect the this particular butterfly species is to plant native milkweed in gardens and yards. This will help replace the loss of milkweed in agriculture fields. Monarch caterpillars will only eat milkweed so this is a very important way to protect this species and to help stop their decline. Milkweed may take a couple of seasons before producing flowers for the monarchs. Providing habitat for these butterflies and caterpillars is essential in saving the monarchs.

Another way to help protect the monarchs is to plant pollinator gardens in your backyard, neighborhood, school or church. Monarchs need the nectar from flowers to stay healthy and to survive. This will not only help the monarch but all pollinators as well.

Lastly, gardening organically without the use of pesticides is a very important way to protect these butterflies.

Pair of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) mating on mulch in the butterfly house at the Norfolk Botanical Garden in Norfolk, Virginia.
Pair of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) mating on the ground on mulch in early summer in the Butterfly House at the Norfolk Botanical Garden in Norfolk, Virginia.

Working Together

As concerned citizens, nature lovers and lovers of our world, we all need to take action to help protect the monarch butterfly. This decline in the monarchs indicates that our climate is in trouble as well. We need to work together to save the these pollinators which will also impact our climate. Monarch butterflies are extremely important to the health of our environment. The monarchs are a very important pollinator as they feed on the nectar and pollinate many different wildflowers in our environment.

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) with wings spread out on flower showing veins and markings.
Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) with wings spread out on flower showing veins and markings.

Thank you for reading my Field Notes blog, and I hope you will share this post with others.

Let’s protect our wildlife and nature!

All the very best,

Lori

https://linktr.ee/LoriACash

Copyright © 2021 Lori A Cash

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4 thoughts on “Ways to Protect the Monarch Butterfly

  1. One serious problem is that to have the butterfly you gotta love the caterpillar. Lots of gardeners will try to kill the caterpillars, then complain that they don’t have butterflies in their garden!

  2. Fantastic post and pictures! Great awareness. I definitely learned some new things about the Monarch!

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