Cape Fear Gardening: why monarch butterfly populations are decreasing and how you can help out

Cape Fear Gardening: Monarch Butterfly
Published: Aug. 4, 2022 at 6:25 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The New Hanover County Arboretum has only documented one monarch butterfly this season. Special guest John Taggart, associate professor emeritus at the Department of Environmental Science at UNCW, explains some of the reasons why that is.

“We think it’s because of a number of factors; such as habitat loss, which allows for unfortunately less milkweed which is their food plant. Also land conversion, and then use of pesticides, modified crops, and then climate over time is going to affect those populations of milkweeds,” said Taggart.

Taggart notes that monarchs are migratory butterflies that travel 2,000 to Mexico for the winter.

“In the past, those forests have been relatively protected, but now there is illegal logging down there. So they’re losing habitat essentially on both ends of their range.”

Home gardeners can help provide for the butterflies by planting native plants, particularly butterfly weed and the common milkweeds native to the area.

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