David Suzuki Foundation expands popular campaign to support monarch butterflies

TORONTO — The David Suzuki Foundation will encourage Canadians to plant milkweed in their yards, parks and schoolyards this spring with its third annual #gotmilkweed campaign, in support of dwindling migratory monarch butterfly populations.

“Monarch butterflies had a good winter, but they remain perilously close to extinction,” said Jode Roberts, manager of the David Suzuki Foundation’s Got Milkweed campaign and Toronto-based Homegrown National Park Project. “Planting milkweed and other pollinator-friendly plants in our gardens, schoolyards and parks is the best way citizens across the country can help bring them back.”

While the number of monarch butterflies overwintering in Mexico was 3.5 times higher this winter than last, populations have declined by more than 80 per cent over the past two decades. Underscoring the perils facing monarchs, a single snowstorm in early March killed up to 11 million monarchs before they left for their multigenerational journey back to Canada. A new study estimates the population has up to a 57 per cent chance of reaching “quasi-extinction” levels over the next 20 years.

“Milkweed is the only plant that monarch butterflies lay their eggs on and is the primary source of food for monarch caterpillars,” said Roberts. “Scientists have identified milkweed planting as the most important action people can take to help support threatened monarch populations.”

The online #gotmilkweed campaign offers three types of milkweed plants native to eastern Canada that can be purchased individually or as kits. For the first time, the sale also includes milkweed seed packets that will be mailed in early May. People living outside of the range of the eastern monarch population are encouraged to contribute $25 to the campaign, so the David Suzuki Foundation can plant milkweed on their behalf.

The #gotmilkweed campaign has inspired more than 10,000 milkweed plantings in Toronto, with another 11,000 people across the country pledging to help monarchs via the Monarch Manifesto. All proceeds from #gotmilkweed will support the David Suzuki Foundation’s efforts to conserve monarchs and other pollinators through research, advocacy and innovative initiatives like the Homegrown National Park Project.

For more information, please contact: Jode Roberts, David Suzuki Foundation: 647-456-9752; jroberts@davidsuzuki.org; @joderoberts