Monarch Stories: Part I

Today, I realized I have quite a few monarch stories. Early this morning, I travelled to the Trempealeau Wildlife Refuge to speak to a group of Festival attendees about the Monarch Butterfly and its current plight.  On my way, I was reviewing my self-introduction (in case it was necessary) and remembered how I came to be a monarch conservationist. It is the first of many stories.

To really understand the Monarch, one must first understand their life cycle.  The reason for this is that this species is sustained by only one plant, the milkweed plant. Now, I have been a monarch conservationist since the year 2000, when a group of them, probably 60-100 en masse,  flew in front of my mini-van following our local highway into town!  It was early fall, and I am sure they were on their migration journey, just passing through our region.  This transformational “event” happened to coincide with my reading of an article in Family Fun Magazine about how to raise monarchs. I was hooked! I told this story to the group of interested community members attending today’s presentation.

The story of how I became “hooked” on monarchs is relatable. It tells my audience how a wife, mother, and nurse eventually turned into a conservationist and environmental educator.  Pretty much, since that time, so many years ago, I have educated first myself, and then others, on the mysteries of the monarch.

Today’s talk, after reviewing the life cycle and the miraculous migration, turned to the more serious subject of the monarch’s decline.  Humans are responsible for much of what has caused the decline of the monarch population in the last few decades. Humans are now needed to fix it.

What was interesting is that this small group of people who gathered to hear me talk, were already very informed. We had a great discussion about how we can get others informed and involve them in efforts to help the Monarch Butterfly.  One belief was commonly held – education. Education is the key to starting the engine on habitat restoration.  We all agreed to go and talk to neighbors, friends, schools, and other community members about what we know and share what we have learned. Milkweed is essential for the Monarch. It is not a weed, as thought for so many years; it is a plant that sustains one of our pollinators. We need our pollinators because we need food!

Now with this blog, I have a bigger audience than my friends, neighbors, community members, and area schools. I am asking you to learn about the needs of Monarchs and what you can do to help. It is really as easy as spreading a few seeds! And, the seeds can usually be obtained for free. So, do your part!  Ask questions. Learn. Share. Plant. Admire the beautiful creatures that visit your yard or fly by you on the highway.  Oh, how I would love to see that group of monarchs fly by me again!

Only together, can we save this iconic species.

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