by Sandy Swegel
The big nature news this week was an article in the New York Times that 2013 is the first year anyone remembers that the monarchs didn’t appear in the central forests of Mexico for the Day of the Dead. It’s part of the cultural tradition there that the annual migration of monarchs to their winter home in the mountains of Mexico represents the souls of the dead. Last year scientists were worried when only 60 million monarchs came back to Mexico, but this year a paltry 3 million straggled in weeks late.
A primary cause of the monarch’s disappearance is the destruction of milkweed in the Midwest, the monarch’s only food. Native habitat in which milkweed thrives has been destroyed as prairie turns to endless monocrops of Roundup-drenched fields of corn. There are other factors such as massive deforestation in Mexico and the transition of prairie land to suburbia. But no milkweed means the monarch starves.
It’s interesting that the New York Times has been a big supporter of the monarch. This was the third article in the last year in which they have featured the decline of the monarch. They have seen the writing on the wall.
What can you do? Keep up the usual things you do opposing GMO crops that rely on Roundup to wipe out all native “weeds.” There’s political action work to reduce the corn subsidies that make Roundup profitable. But as a gardener, you can plant some milkweed and other native plants that will feed the many native pollinators in dramatic decline. The monarch might be the prettiest most dramatic victim of our prairie destruction, but there are many others. Gardeners understand the delicate web of life that depends on native habitat. Tell your friends.
New Yorks Times on the Monarch: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/24/sunday-review/the-year-the-monarch-didnt-appear.html?_r=0http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/13/opinion/sunday/monarchs-fight-for-their-lives.htmlhttp://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/14/science/earth/monarch-migration-plunges-to-lowest-level-in-decades.html