Welcome to the Norwex Movement

One Poison That’s So Important to Monarchs


leaf
One Poison That’s So Important to Monarchs

What’s Going on in Our Nectar Corridors?

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.”

– John Muir

Delicate and beautiful, Monarch butterflies are one of North America’s most beloved natural treasures. And perhaps nothing is more breathtaking than witnessing hundreds of the gently fluttering creatures in migration along their 3,000-mile route from Mexico, where they spend the winter, before heading back to Canada every spring.

These winged wonders are the only known insect to embark on this type of annual round-trip migration, and it truly is a group effort: It can take three to four generations for the insects to make just the northern migratory leg of the journey.

But over the last 20 years, the Monarch population has been in decline. Some estimates show as much as a 90% drop in their numbers, due in large part to a variety of inter-related factors including loss of habitat, weather, deforestation and the use of herbicides. Also impacted is the Monarch’s key plant for survival—the milkweed—especially throughout the butterflies’ “nectar corridors.”

What are nectar corridors?

Nectar corridors are the migratory routes that pollinators such as the Monarch follow every year. These routes help the butterflies, bees and other insects to take advantage of the plants coming into bloom during their progression from south to north in the spring and back again in the fall. Much of the milkweed that Monarchs rely on has typically been found within these pathways.

Inside these nectar corridors, milkweed species formerly grew in abundance alongside farm crops, providing fertile feeding and breeding grounds for the Monarchs. But recently, a combination of factors has begun killing off the milkweed, thereby narrowing the Monarchs’ nectar corridors. In the Midwest alone, more than 120 million acres of farmland formerly abundant in milkweed has been lost to the Monarchs.

Why do Monarchs need milkweed?

milkweed

Monarch feeding on Milkweed

While butterflies can feed on the nectar of many different flowering plants, Monarchs rely specifically on milkweed for laying their eggs. Milkweed produces a poisonous latex substance that Monarchs are impervious to, but which makes Monarchs unpalatable to predators. As Dr. Art Shapiro, UC Davis professor and author, explains, “The Monarch butterfly uses the milkweed plant to lay eggs, which the caterpillar consumes, providing both a food source and a protection from birds, as the milkweed makes the caterpillar and butterfly poisonous if consumed.”

What can be done to increase the number of milkweed plants?

The good news is that steps are being taken to bring North American nectar corridors back to life for the Monarch. For example, last year the Transportation Department and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced plans to help rehabilitate butterfly habitats along Interstate 35—a federal U.S. highway stretching from Duluth, Minnesota, to the Texas–Mexico border. The goal is to rehabilitate prairie vegetation, educate target audiences, and provide seasonal breeding habitats along the flyway—and to increase the Monarch population from 56.5 million to 225 million by 2020.

Norwex Movement members can help the Monarch, too. No matter where you live, there is sure to be a variety of milkweed that will do well in your garden. Consider planting milkweed in your garden, backyard or community garden to help provide feeding and breeding “stepping stones” for the Monarchs along their semiannual migration paths.

For those in colder climates looking for a DIY project, here’s a series of tips from MonarchButterflyGarden.net that will help you sow your own milkweed seeds in time for the spring migrating season.

What on Earth Contest

What on Earth are YOU Doing?

Enter our contest April 15 – 22, and show off your small, conscious choice to make Earth a better planet!
#EarthDayIsEveryDay #WhatOnEarth

Get Contest Details

comment_2Do you live near a nectar corridor? We’d love to hear from you! Just leave a comment below.

Resources:
The Washington Post: Are monarch butterflies really being massacred?
Green Blog: Monarch Butterflies Considered for Endangered Species List
The Washington Post: The monarch massacre – Nearly a billion butterflies have vanished
Science: Monarch butterfly studies tell a perplexing tale
Desert Museum: Migratory Pollinators Program
Monarch Joint Venture: Milkweed for Monarchs [PDF]
Auburn Journal: Monarch butterfly considered for endangerment status
Government Executive: Obama Is Creating a 1,500-Mile ‘Butterfly Corridor’ to Help Monarchs
National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators [PDF]
Monarch Butterfly Garden: Winter Sowing Milkweed Seeds Part 1: Supply Checklist
Savvy Gardening: Plant milkweed to help save the monarch butterflies

Did you know that Monarchs were so reliant on milkweed?

View Results
 
Yes:
 
49%
No:
 
51%
Total Votes:
102
View Poll
guest
11 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Amy Hepfner
Amy Hepfner
5 years ago

We live in the Nectar Corridor in Minnesota. We are working on having a patch of milkweed in our garden. Not only are they pretty garden plants but for the monarchs as well.

Patti Stauss
Patti Stauss
5 years ago

Yes I’m in the milkweed corridor. I have milkweed growing in my yard. Last year I left some as part of the plantings in my perennial garden. My girlfriend wanted to pull them out, she recognized them as ‘weeds’. I made her leave them and told her how the Monarchs use them. They were very pretty and added interest to my plantings.

Moderator
Admin
Moderator
5 years ago
Reply to  Patti Stauss

Patti, on behalf of Monarchs everywhere, thanks for keeping your milkweed plants!

Linda Watson
Linda Watson
5 years ago

Good news to hear something positive is being done l to help the beautiful monarch!

Joanne Schultz
Joanne Schultz
5 years ago

I will be planting milkweed this year. I love butterflies and miss them.

Patricia Robinson
Patricia Robinson
5 years ago

I enjoyed this post so much. I went to my local garden spot here in Dallas TX. Milkweed will become available in mid May. Can’t wait to pick some out/up. We have started a Humming Bird, Butterfly and Bee garden. I have enjoyed this so much. The plus side my yard never looked better. Thanks Norwex!

Hope Beach
Hope Beach
5 years ago

I have a friend that I think lives in one of those corridors as she always talks about the monarchs coming! I’m with Patricia, I think I’ll go get milkweed too. I’d love to have them visit my garden!

Jennifer Rottman
Jennifer Rottman
4 years ago

I planted milkweed just for the monarchs. It is not pretty, but I love to see the butterflies.

Leigh-Ann Ross
Leigh-Ann Ross
4 years ago

We have a butterfly garden near our home with lots of these plants! Planting some milkweed in our own yard is definitely something I will be thinking about next Spring!

Gingi Freeman
Gingi Freeman
3 years ago

I do live near a nectar corridor.. and we live right near the migration path! Every year we take out kids to see the monarch migrating, and then come home to plant milkweed as a family! (My husband and I were doing this as a couple before we even had kids, haha!) <3 THANK YOU for sharing this important information!!

Michelle Thorn
Michelle Thorn
3 years ago

I love living in SE Texas. I am in the migration pattern and nectar corridor. My kids love to see the different stages of the insect – from egg to larvae to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly. We have raised many indoors just to see the whole process. My daughter always recognizes Monarchs and loves to see them at the many places we visit, especially the Houston Zoo. Our milkweed garden is slowly recovering from the few hard freezes we had here in SE Texas, slowly but surely they’re coming back! Can’t wait for the Spring 2018 migration!