Did you know one out of every three bites of food you eat exists because of the efforts of pollinators: bees, butterflies, moths, wasps and birds? Many pollinator populations are in decline globally due to loss of feeding and nesting habitats, pollution, misuse of chemicals, disease and change in climate. One of the world’s most beautiful, and soon-to-be endangered pollinators is the Monarch butterfly.
Monarch butterflies are North America's best-known, most beloved butterflies. Weighing less than an ounce, each monarch can fly more than 250 miles a day to their annual migration to Mexico and Oklahoma is just one of their pit stops.
How can we be more welcoming to our southward-bound friends?
Pollinator gardens help reverse the decline of Monarchs as well as other pollinators. But, it’s important to choose the right plants that provide food and shelter. “Think native plants,” says Keep Broken Arrow Beautiful’s Beverly Forester. “Native plants acclimate better to our weather and are more likely to survive,” explains Forester.
Milkweed is the No.1 food for attracting and retaining Monarch butterflies. They not only need the milkweed to reproduce, but it’s the only plant caterpillars will eat. Okies for Monarchs recommends planting at least 10 milkweed plants per 100 feet, and to plant in clumps, rather than individual plants. Go to OkiesForMonarchs.org and you can discover the many different types of milkweed native to our state.
Before purchasing milkweed, consider asking to make sure it hasn’t been treated with systemic insecticides. Locally sourced plants and seeds are always the best option.
"It's ok to start small, even with a container garden," stresses Forester, adding, "We need to start yesterday protecting our Monarchs."