It isn't new news that monarch butterflies are in trouble, or that planting milkweed will help them. More than a thousand households in Toronto joined our #GotMilkweed campaign this spring and have planted milkweed in yards and on balconies. Dozens of schoolyards and parks got milkweed too. The campaign has arguably been the largest-ever urban milkweed intervention. But it's just the beginning.
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A study from the University of Guelph hit the news June 5, dramatically underscoring the urgent need to help our orange-and-black flittering friends. The researchers estimate that herbicides applied to agricultural fields in the U.S. corn belt alone have destroyed more than 1.5 billion milkweed plants. Most of the crops have been genetically modified to resist the herbicides.
It's not great news, obviously. But what gives us hope is that a movement has started to plant millions of milkweed plants throughout North America. The plight of monarch butterflies is unique in that the action needed isn't another petition or law (although decision-makers and politicos will need to step up). We simply need to plant more milkweed. A lot more milkweed.
This grassroots movement to help monarchs begins at home, in our backyards and on balconies. We need more milkweed and pollinator-friendly plants in our parks and schoolyards, and along streets, alleys, roads and rail and hydro corridors.
How can you help? Make room for milkweed and other butterfly- and bee-friendly plants in your yard or on your balcony. Go to your local garden centre or nursery and buy milkweed to plant in your community. Encourage your neighbours, school groups and parks departments to do likewise. Get your yard or block certified as a Monarch Waystation. And if your local stores don't have milkweed in stock, ask them to start stocking it.
Together we can bring back the butterflies.