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Plight of the Monarch, June 2012
June 04, 2012

Thank you for all the prayers, Karen's mom is doing much better (health wise).

MIL is home and eating and drinking liquids on her own.

Her doctor even said she has even gained back a bit of weight.

This is good in many ways.

Not only is mom on the mend (as much as possible), Karen isn't run ragged right now either.

Yes, Thank You Lord.

Keet (Akita), one of our little fur kids has some kind of allergy that had to be addressed this week.

The fur kid doctor recommends changing her diet and gave her a cortisone shot and some cream we must apply three times a day.

Another month in books and everything is planted around here (I think), and ready to grow.

June has started out a bit on the chilly side, we were blessed however, with close to two inches of a nice soaking rain from Thursday night into early Saturday.

Right now every bit of water helps.

Turning the page on the calendar also means it is time to give your feeders a good cleaning.

Scrub and sanitize the nooks and crannies.

Be sure to rinse well and dry before a refill.

As the weather heats up, this is very important with hummingbird feeders.

I see too many hummer feeders that are filled and left for weeks on end.

Hummers will get sick if they drink from a contaminated feeder.

Clean and change every couple of days or when the sugar water begins to turn cloudy.

Remember to use those crushed eggshells you've been saving.

Eggshells are a great form of calcium.

Egg laying birds need calcium this time of year to help produce strong eggs themselves.

Birds use eggshells as grit.

Crushed eggshells can be used as a slug deterrent.

Fine crushed shells feed calcium to your plants, especially your tomatoes that need calcium to help deter blossom end rot.

Banana peels provide a good source of Potassium and Phosphorus.

Feed to your roses and tomatoes as well.

Anything citrus can be offered to acid loving plants.

Your Healing Gardens (last week's topic), may include flowers that attract butterflies.

You may even have what you call a butterfly garden.

However, does your garden provide host plants for the various butterflies?

This week's topic is once again on the Plight of the Monarch Butterfly, with some more or new information.


Tropical plants, flowers and trees from around the globe grace botanical gardens.

This flora makes up the home and serves as food for hundreds of butterflies.

But what about host plants for the adults to lay their eggs?

The biggest concern is the 'Plight of the Monarch'.

(Monarch egg)

Today the monarch butterfly Monarch Butterfly is the smallest and most delicate creature on the World Wildlife Fund’s endangered species list.

The world’s most spectacular insect migration happens in our backyards and we should do everything we can to protect the amazing insects.

The migration of the monarch is considered one of nature’s most amazing phenomena.

At the end of February, millions of monarchs in their overwintering locations in Mexico will begin to make their journey back to the north as temperatures begin to warm up.

We’re losing a lot of habitat, nearly two million acres a year.

The governments of Canada, the United States and Mexico, are creating national committees that are committed to saving the monarch and its habitat by reviewing deforestation policies, but there is still much work to be done before the monarch is safe.

Here is a quote from Chip Taylor, insect ecologist at the University of Kansas and the director of research at Monarch Watch.

"The scale of loss of habitat is so big that, unless we compensate for it in some way, the population will decline to a point where it will disappear."

That my friend, would be one of the saddest days in our history.

Butterfly Gardens are a wonderful place to visit and teach kids, but the gardens also must provide host plants for the varieties of butterflies that visit, if we are to sustain healthy populations.

Between 1999 and 2010, the same time in which genetically modified or altered seed crops became an everyday thing for farmers, the number of Monarch eggs have declined by more than 80% across the Midwest.

A few weeks back, there was an article in my local paper.

Credits go to Josephine Marcotty of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

I'm borrowing a few sentences from this article to go along with what I have to say as well.

I think it was last spring I wrote on genetically altered seeds, and what they may be doing to our live stock and us.

Well, here is another reason of concern.

Genetically modified corn and soybeans make it easy for farmers to spray their fields with Roundup Herbicide and other chemicals, to kill the weeds and save the crops.

This includes killing off milkweeds.

(Now remember, we ingest these genetic alterations.)

Is it a coincidental that monarch declines have skyrocketed over this same period of time?

Yes, there was a drought lost year, severe weather in Mexico two or three times in the past dozen years.

True, habitats continue to shrink.

80% fewer eggs in the Midwest alone?

(Egg and Larvae on milkweed.)

When people put something out there, we don't know what the consequences might be, whether it be a declining butterfly population, or increased illness in humans.

Most Monarch butterflies make the extraordinary migration from as far away as Canada to Mexico (a small western population winters in California).

God has given these amazing creatures the instincts on where to go (never been there before) and purposely kept them immature as to not breed until the following late winter and spring.

Yet another marvel of from our Creator (would you expect anything less?).

Over the past decade and a half, monarch numbers have continued to decline.

Winter grounds covered 7 acres this past winter.

28% less than the year before.

In 1996 they occupied 45 acres.

That is a huge difference.

I digress,

Surprisingly, it was discovered that monarchs use milkweeds more heavily within the crop fields.

The butterflies will lay up to four times as many eggs on farm fields as on pastures or along roadsides and ditches.

Many of the eggs will become food for another creature or bacteria.

(Picture credit to Monarch Watch.)

John Pleasants, a monarch researcher from Iowa State
in Ames, Iowa said he used data on milkweed density in Iowa and compared that to landscape use data across the Midwest.

His research has shown a 58 percent decline in milkweed plants throughout the Corn Belt on agricultural lands.

Research and data have shown a couple of things.

Butterflies are not flocking to milkweeds outside agricultural fields for breeding purposes, they simply aren't reproducing.

An over all decline in egg production down by more than 80 percent.

We all know that the species is struggling because of habitat loss here in America and Canada, not to mention the wintering grounds in Mexico.

Seems that the plight of the Monarch is multi-faceted.


Time for some cogitating on your part.

Something to mull over the next few days.

Here you go............

Monarch watching and record keeping has only been around a few short decades.

Do we really know what is a healthy Monarch population?

We understand that weather is part of nature and removes the weak.

You and I are well aware of habitat loss, and make efforts to plant milkweed (host plants).

For some reason, Monarchs choose agricultural fields
4 to 1, over wild fields and our gardens.

They are happy in a corn field and lay up to 81% more eggs.

Before agriculture, were the Monarch numbers less and have increased with farming, peaking in 1996 (according to records).

Or, were monarch numbers high, low, or in between, before agriculture and pre record keeping and simply drifted to the crop fields for one reason or another (protection, etc.), and flourished?

Yes, chemicals and habitat loss play a major roll in the Monarch's Plight.

What is a healthy or normal Monarch population?

Monarch populations are shrinking and we know the Plight will continue unless we do something now.

For me, I would like to see more butterflies

Something for you to think about is all.

We all know they are on a collision course with extinction if something doesn't happen soon.

I simply want a healthy and what would be considered normal butterfly population.

Many people plant butterfly gardens to attract the winged wonders, but few think of the host plants to attract butterflies now and the next generation.

Be it monarchs or some other butterfly you wish to attract, create a butterfly friendly yard and include host plants.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless

Hard things are put in our way, not to stop us, but to call out our courage and strength.


Who is your courage and strength?

"But in my distress I cried out to the LORD; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears."

Psalms 18:6

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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