2013 was a horrific year for the monarch butterfly and their amazing fall migration. Never in my life, have I heard so many people proclaim they had not seen one monarch all season!
Our greatest fears were realized, last winter, when the annual monarch butterfly count from their Mexican wintering grounds was estimated to be the lowest in migration history.
This spring started off cool again, and many feared it would be detrimental to the already-struggling population. Three short months later, things seem to have taken a surprising turn for the better.
Here are 6 reasons to be hopeful for a well-traveled monarch migration in 2014:
Earlier Northern Migration
Last season, a cold spring robbed us of an entire generation of monarchs. This season started similarly, but the temperatures recovered faster in the southern US.
In Minnesota, we’ve already released over 20 monarch butterflies. Last year, we didn’t even have our first eggs yet. This is also true for other raisers in this region I have spoken to.
More Rain in the Midwest
Drought has been a milkweed killer over the past few seasons. It can also leave caterpillars dehydrated, unable to finish their amazing transformation into beautiful butterflies. Midwest milkweed has plummeted by as much as 80% over the past decade.
Many drought stricken areas throughout the monarchs’ central pathway have received more rain, and there is a better milkweed supply for monarchs to utilize in this region. Two years ago, drought tore apart a promising start to the season. This year, weather could play more of a healing role…
More Gardeners Aware of Milkweed and its Benefits
Social media websites have brought gardeners together to share information like never before. We are sharing information on milkweed plants including where to find them, what they attract, how to grow them, and more…
Some of this information is inspiring others to start their own butterfly gardens.
The Monarch Plight is getting More Attention from the General Public
Again, social media sites like facebook and twitter have made the general public more aware of monarch and pollinator issues. Sharing information across these platforms is starting to make a difference.
Check out our amazing community of over 5,ooo monarch enthusiasts on facebook.
An Unexpected Eggs-plosion in Minnesota
As a gardener whose plant selection heavily favors monarch activity, I realize my personal results may be skewed. However, if you look at Journey North you’ll see there are many in this region reporting monarch egg discoveries compared to last season.
Compare results through June 20th:
Usually, we get an egg-lull after receiving our first batch of eggs. This year we have been getting new eggs every couple of days without exception. This excites me and here’s why it should excite you too:
Earlier activity in the northern US means more monarch activity in Canada this season, utilizing all the fresh milkweed across the Great White North. Canada will yield two generations of monarchs this year and should start off a strong fall migration.
Last year the monarch population barely made it to Canada, while the US monarchs struggled through the continuing drought. In fall 2013, the migration generation limped through the US into the mountains of Mexico.
Based on spring results, I’m hopeful for a mightier monarch migration in 2014. What say you?