The first week of August symbolizes so much beyond its calendar date: the season heat begins to officially overstay its welcome, the sun starts setting earlier, and the end of summer starts its season charade. With the end of summer, however, comes the start of something new: like a mass exodus fleeing the cold autumn breeze, millions of Monarch butterflies migrate from the United States and Canada to the warmer climates of southern California and Mexico. The Monarch paints pieces of the United States’ landscape in their trademark fiery-orange hue for days at a time — a fitting visual considering that a flock of butterflies is officially known as a kaleidoscope.
The Monarch’s migration story is sensational because it could actually take multiple generations to complete in its entirety; in other words, by the time a Monarch butterfly arrives in Canada, it is finishing a journey that its great-great-grandmother had started many moons before. In this way, the Monarch is always standing for something bigger than itself: at once the butterfly symbolizes a network of complex ancestry, advanced and resilient collectivism, and unbelievable feats of nature. That these incredible insects exist is a miracle in its own right, but the fact that these wonders are taking place in our own backyard is nothing short of astounding. Especially considering the intertwined relationship between humans and nature, the butterfly’s migration no longer in the hands of the natural environment — it is up to us to ensure a secure future for the Monarch butterfly, one milkweed plant at a time.
Read below to learn about how to help the Monarch’s future, what to plan for the magical migration period, and how to turn your backyard into a Monarch butterfly haven.
Milkweed is a Monarch caterpillars main source of food and the best way to attract the butterflies — there are over seventy Milkweed species native to the United States, so follow this link to check which one is right for your region. Fun fact, milkweed is actually toxic to almost all other animals — add that to the Monarch-Butterflies-are-not-of-this-world list.
The Monarch butterfly is highly sensitive to temperature, and with climate change spurring rising temperatures worldwide, the migration cycle and natural habitat of the Monarch has been compromised. Live sustainably, shop locally, and avoid GMO foods.
For the motivated: build a pollinator garden
Follow the link here to build your own pollinator garden in your backyard. Planting varieties of milkweed and wildflowers will give the Monarch butterflies (and other species that are awesome for the environment) a diverse habitat to call home!