Monarch butterflies are one of the most recognized insects on earth. The monarch’s name suits it well, as its colors and flight are both majestic and beautiful. U.S. News reported on July 21, 2022, that they are now listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the world’s most comprehensive scientific authority on the status of species. The designation is warranted due to the dramatic dwindling of the populations in North America.
What are monarch butterflies?
National Geographic states, “The monarch butterfly is one of the most recognizable and well-studied butterflies on the planet. Its orange wings are laced with black lines and bordered with white dots. Famous for their seasonal migration, millions of monarchs migrate from the United States and Canada south to California and Mexico for the winter.
- Monarch butterflies are herbivores
- Their wingspan is between 3.5 and 4 inches
- Monarchs weigh in at under 0.026 ounces!
- Sadly, they live only six to eight months
Monarchs’ colorful pattern makes them easy to identify—and that’s the idea. The distinctive colors warn predators that they’re foul-tasting and poisonous. The poison comes from their diet. Milkweed itself is toxic, but monarchs have evolved not only to tolerate it but to use it to their advantage by storing the toxins in their bodies and making themselves poisonous to predators, such as birds.”
The New York Times writes, “The numbers of Western monarchs, which live west of the Rocky Mountains, plummeted by an estimated 99.9 percent between the 1980s and 2021. While they rebounded somewhat this year, they remain in great peril. Eastern monarchs, which make up most of the population in North America, dropped by 84 percent from 1996 to 2014. The new designation of endangered covers both populations.”
The monarch migration is a natural wonder.
In the east, only monarchs that emerge in late summer or early fall make the annual migration south for the winter. As the days get shorter and the weather cooler, they know it’s time to abandon their breeding grounds in the northern U.S. and Canada and head south to the mountains of central Mexico, where it’s warmer. Some migrate up to 3,000 miles.
There, they huddle together on oyamel fir trees to wait out the winter. Once the days start growing longer again, they begin to move back north, stopping somewhere along the route to lay eggs. Then the new generation continues farther north and stops to lay eggs. The process may repeat over four or five generations before the monarchs have reached Canada again.
Western monarchs head to the California coast for the winter, stopping at one of several hundred known spots along the coast to wait out the cold. When spring comes, they disperse across California and other western states.
How do monarchs make such a long journey? They use the sun to stay on course, but they also have a magnetic compass to help them navigate on cloudy days. A special gene for highly efficient muscles gives them an advantage for long-distance flight. (Special thanks to National Geographic for this information)
What can I do to help the monarch butterflies?
Monarch butterflies lay their eggs on the leaves of a milkweed plant. During that time, they eat only milkweed, which is why she lays her eggs there. Homeowners can plant milkweed and create a welcome environment for monarchs.
The U.S. Forest Service lists the numerous government agencies and organizations in North America that are working on projects to conserve monarch habitats and the migration phenomenon. Here is a link to the overview of Initiatives and Protocols.
Nature and natural balance require understanding and expertise.
Yes, we are a pest control company, and our goal is to keep your home and family pest free. In doing so, we must always be aware of the environment and respect Mother Nature.
- We work in conjunction with wildlife rehabilitators. When we are called to a site and find a pregnant animal or a newborn baby, we know removal and care are tricky. We prefer not to eradicate pregnant wildlife or newborn babies, but if it is necessary given the situation, we will release the animals to the care of a wildlife Rehabilitator.
- We advocate preserving the pollinators such as honeybees or bumblebees. Bees are critical to pollination and the success of our farmer’s crops, the beauty in our backyards, and the balance of nature. The bee population, in general, is declining in the U.S. at a rapid rate. At Accurate Pest Control, typically, we will not kill the honeybees and try our best to preserve them due to the colony collapse disorder currently facing these bees. We have joined forces with local beekeepers who will remove the hive, relocate, and save it. We will remove it from the structure to access the hive and repair the structure once the hive is removed.
We live in an ever-changing world. We are thankful for nature and do our best to balance protecting our customers and keeping nature alive and well. Happy August 1st, and enjoy these beautiful late-summer days.
The Team at Accurate Pest Control