What I most look forward to each summer is the return of the monarch butterflies. These magnificent winged creatures begin their trek across the United States and Canada from Mexico late in the spring, where they spend the winter hibernating. After the 3000 mile journey they begin to visit fields and backyards, leaving behind tiny green eggs to allow the cycle of life to begin again.
Further research revealed that milkweed and nectar sources are declining due to development and the widespread use of herbicides in croplands, pastures and roadsides. Fields which once provided a haven for milkweed have been replaced by various housing and development projects, subdivisions, factories, shopping centers, etc. According to MONARCHWATCH.ORG, “Widespread adoption of herbicide-resistant corn and soybeans has resulted in the loss of more than 100 million acres of monarch habitat in recent years.”
Another way to help is to foster butterfly eggs and caterpillars. I began growing monarchs thirty-seven years ago by gathering their eggs from local fields with my children and carefully nurturing the baby monarchs through their metamorphic stages. My children are grown and on their own now but I continue to grow monarchs each year. The summer of 2014 has proven to be a bumper crop year for monarchs. I am still waiting for research to come out to explain why there are more monarchs this year then there were in 2012/13 but I am pleased to report that I have found ninety eggs in my garden this summer. Many have been placed in homes with young children in the hope that our next generation will experience the beauty and miracle of God’s creativity by observing the butterfly’s life cycle.
We need to do all we can to help preserve and protect the monarchs. No effort is too small or too insignificant. Please help the monarchs to continue to be one of the highlights of summer, not only for this generation but for generations to come.