Letter: Help save the monarchs

Published 8:30 pm Tuesday, August 24, 2021

According to the National Wildlife Federation, the eastern monarch butterfly population had an overall 90% decline from their peak two decades ago (NWF, March 2018).

This majestic butterfly is currently on the brink of being endangered, but there is much we can do to reverse this unfortunate trend.

As the fall planting season approaches, I am writing to urge you to consider making common milkweed part of your garden next spring, by planting seeds now, or before the ground freezes.

Milkweed is the primary source of nutrients for monarch butterfly caterpillars and, thus, is essential to the survival of the species. Milkweed that is safe for monarch caterpillars to graze on is vanishing, however, due to spraying of pesticides and pruning by well-meaning gardeners or farmers. This has resulted in their species reaching critically-low population levels.

We can do much to protect monarchs from this decline in their food source by planting milkweed in our own lawns and gardens. It might not seem like much, but it is my hope that local gardeners planting milkweed leads to a butterfly effect and city officials, farmers and businesses in Freeborn County will be inspired to take initiative.

Milkweed seeds require an over-wintering in frozen ground (or in the fridge/freezer) before they can reach full maturity, which is why it is recommended to plant the seeds in the fall for best success.

Plan to plant milkweed seeds anytime from now until the ground freezes. Milkweed seeds can be purchased locally at Albert Lea Seedhouse. Restore healthy patches of milkweed today, and help create the butterfly effect that saves the monarch tomorrow.

Ruth Delano

Albert Lea