Monarch butterflies are easily recognized worldwide for their gorgeous black and orange wings, but these beauties are in danger of disappearing completely. Their numbers have dropped by 90 percent over the last couple of decades, and if we don’t smarten up, they’ll all die off. Greenpeace has shared eight ways that each and every one of us can help save these vital pollinators from extinction at our own hands, so please read on, and spread the word.
1. Plant Milkweed Native to Your Area
We can’t stress this one highly enough. The monarchs in your region will need to eat indigenous milkweed plants, so find out which ones are native to your area, and plant away. Then plant some more. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even do a bit of milkweed guerilla gardening and plant seeds or seedlings in unused, vacant areas as well as your own yard.
2. Don’t Use Pesticides!!
We can’t stress this strongly enough: don’t use pesticides anywhereon your land. Not only do pesticides kill many types of insect larvae (including butterfly…), they often contain an herbicide called glyphosate, which destroys milkweed. Milkweed is the only plant that monarch butterflies lay eggs in, and its leaves are the sole food eaten by this butterfly’s larvae, so killing it off = destroying monarchs forever.
Related: Monarch butterfly numbers drop to lowest level in recorded history
3. Create a Monarch Way-Station
Let a part of your yard get overgrown, and fill it with milkweed plants. Set out a butterfly-safe watering dish where the little ones can stop to drink, and you’ll ensure that they have a safe place to stop, rest, and regroup during their migration.
4. Use FSC-Certified Wood
Most monarchs migrate to Mexico for the winter, but illegal logging in that country has decimated the forests where these butterflies usually congregate. Buying FSC-certified wood helps to protect those forests, ensuring that the monarchs have a habitat to return to.
5. Avoid Eating GMO Foods
Those horrible “Roundup-Ready” frankenseeds are resistant to the aforementioned glyphosate, so farmers use significantly more pesticides and herbicides to kill weeds… and those high amounts of glyphosate wreak absolute havoc on nearby milkweed.
Related: U.S. Government launches $3.5 million campaign to save monarch butterflies
6. Do Your Part to Combat Climate Change
Drive less, reduce the waste you create, ensure that your home is as energy-efficient as possible, buy organic. Every little bit of effort helps to reduce our impact on the climate.
7. Educate Yourself
Learn as much as you can about local dangers to monarch habitats, and determine what kind of action would be best for you to take. If you don’t have land of your own, you could look into the possibility of volunteering at a community garden space. There might even be butterfly conservation groups in your area that you could help out with. Even if you’re not interested in taking a hands-on approach to helping, you can at least learn how to do as little harm to the butterflies as possible.
8. Spread the Word!
Tell others about the monarch’s plight, and encourage them to take these steps. Share educational materials with friends, family members and co-workers, strike up conversations with random folks at garden centers, contact your MP, start a Facebook page, etc. The more people who know how to help these winged wonders, the better!
Let’s work together to make sure we save this vital species from extinction.