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Tree Talk - Metropolitan Forestry Services

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August 16, 2022

The Monarch Butterfly is Endangered – What Can We Do?

On July 21, 2022, the majestic monarch butterfly was declared an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. While there have been worldwide efforts to protect the monarch butterfly and restore its habitats, the population has continued to decline since the 1990’s. Wildfires, climate change, pesticides, and loss of prairies and forests have nearly taken this charismatic insect off the map. We need legislation and policy changes immediately if we hope to preserve monarch butterflies and fellow pollinators. In the meantime, we have the power to enact change right in our own yards. 

Reimagining our Landscapes

Do you recall when native plants were considered weedy, messy, and unattractive? Oh, how the times have changed! Now, native gardens are front and center in St. Louis. Unique plants like goldenrod, asters, liatris, and rattlesnake master are dappled amongst milkweeds and tall grasses. These plantings mimic prairies and waystations that butterflies require during migration for rest and reproduction. Furthermore, the emphasis on a well-manicured lawn is being redirected to valuing gardens, hardscapes, and trees. This minimizes lawn equipment pollution and the overabundant use of turf fertilizer and herbicides that can harm our essential pollinators. 

But a shift in perspective like this did not happen overnight. Thanks to the efforts of numerous organizations in our area, the St. Louis gardening culture has become diverse, colorful, and rich with educational resources. If you would like to join the movement to protect the monarch butterflies, you can contact your representatives to advocate for legislation supporting environmental conservation efforts. As for your own yard, even a few plants can have a ripple effect. 

Resources For Your Butterfly Garden

Grow Native   www.grownative.org  

Missouri Botanical Garden www.missouribotanicalgarden.org  

Wild Ones https://wildones.org  

Missouri Prairie Foundation https://moprairie.org  

University of Missouri Extension https://extension.missouri.edu/  

Missouri Department of Conservation https://mdc.mo.gov/your-property/  

The St. Louis Butterfly Project – Milkweeds for Monarchs https://www.stlouis-mo.gov/monarchs/index.cfm  

Many garden centers boast vast selections of milkweed and nectar plants specifically targeted to monarch preferences. Also, you can get some inspiration from native plantings around town at the St. Louis Zoo, St. Louis Public libraries, several college campuses, the Shaw Nature Reserve, Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House, and of course, the Missouri Botanical Garden.  

Here’s to hopeful and helpful gardening!  

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