As reported March 6 by the San Diego Union Tribune, “Western monarch numbers have been steadily dropping for decades, from 1.2 million in 1997 to 30,000 in 2019, but the most recent results from the 24th Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count are staggering — just 1,914 butterflies total, down from the millions that used to migrate from the Pacific Northwest and Central California to overwinter along the coast from Mendocino in Northern California to Ensenada in Baja California . . . . [A]fter wildfire ripped through the area around . . . Butterfly Town, USA, in the midst of traditional migration season . . . not a single monarch was found in Pacific Grove, a tourist mecca for people who came to marvel at the swarms of Western monarchs that congregate during the winter, clinging to eucalyptus and pine branches to find protection from the cold and wind.”
The City of Solana Beach has taken the Mayors' Monarch Pledge, a challenge sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation to encourage development of monarch habitat. We are working with the CAC and the City to identify public spaces where we can plant butterfly patches. Our first site will be along the east wall of La Colonia Community Center and parking area.
In your gardens:
Whenever possible, plant native milkweed* varieties, which are the host plants where Western monarchs lay their eggs and the food plants for monarch caterpillars.
Plant lots of native nectar flowers, too, so your butterflies have food to sip. Consider Yarrows, California lilac (Ceanothus), Salvias, and Monkeyflower (Mimulus).
Don’t use pesticides or herbicides. They are toxic to caterpillars; the aphids that might flock to your milkweed aren’t.
*Asclepias Albicans - Whitestem Milkweed, Asclepias Californica -California, Milkweed, Asclepias Eriocarpa - Indian/Woollypod Milkweed, Asclepias Erosa - Desert Milkweed, Asclepias Fascicularis - Narrowleaf Milkweed, Asclepias Subulata - Rush Milkweed. (Source: Monarch and Friends)