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Letter: Plant milkweed, save the monarchs

As a young boy, I spent summers at my grandparent's farm in Illinois. I can still see a cameo locket vision of Irish green grass, bluebells and majestic monarch butterflies drifting in the sun. When I saw the brilliant monarchs, I'd run to grandp...

As a young boy, I spent summers at my grandparent’s farm in Illinois. I can still see a cameo locket vision of Irish green grass, bluebells and majestic monarch butterflies drifting in the sun. When I saw the brilliant monarchs, I’d run to grandpa or grandma and exclaim with youthful exuberance, “It’s a butterfly morning,” or “It’s a butterfly afternoon.”
While monarchs negotiate one of the most remarkable winter migrations of any species, I seldom see one now because their population has fallen an alarming 90 percent in recent years.
We can attribute the decline to herbicides as well as loss of habitat to urban development and land converted to agricultural purposes. Little can be done to change these reasons for decline, but we can certainly do something to improve the monarch’s chances of survival.
Farmers, who justifiably seek the highest yields possible, use herbicides freely to kill milkweed. But milkweed remains the key to life for monarchs because they lay their eggs exclusively on these plants. Monarchs also eat milkweed (poisonous to other creatures) and this provides them with protection from predators.
Just this month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service pledged $3.2 million to restore monarch habitat by planting milkweed in schoolyards and open spaces which don’t interfere with agricultural production.
You can help too. Buy seeds (very inexpensive) and plant milkweed in parks, along roadsides, and other open areas.
Let’s save the mystical beauty of monarchs.

James Bankes, 
Bismarck

Related Topics: BISMARCK
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