Woe of the Monarch

Been looking through the seed catalogs to help get you through the last days of winter? Here’s something you should think about planting this year: milkweed.

At least, if you think this is cool:

overwintering monarch butterflies

The Monarch butterfly population has plunged to its lowest level in its Mexico wintering grounds in years. Where they once covered 50 acres, they now cover about three. Their numbers have dropped in half since 2011.

Whose fault? Drought and heat are in for some of the blame. But the Midwest farmer seems to be the likely culprit.

The Midwest milkweed habitat is “virtually gone,” according to Chip Taylor, director of the conservation group Monarch Watch at the University of Kansas. Most of that is because of the increase in the amount of acreage for crop production. Wildlife officials also blame increased use of pesticide and herbicide.

Monarch larvae appear to feed exclusively on milkweed.