Western Monarch Call to Action
An iconic migration is on the verge of collapse—we must all do our part to save western monarchs!
We know Pollinators and Native Plants are critical to ecosystem health, including the health of humans. We also know that species of plants and animals are going extinct every single day due to climate change, habitat loss through resource extraction and pesticide use.
Kootenay Native Plants Society is dedicated to turning that trend around in the Kootenays.
Please join us in our Call to Action to Welcome Back Monarchs to our region
In 2022 Monarch were red listed by the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN), identifying them as a species in dangerous decline. Showy Milkweed, a local plant critical to monarch survival, is also in decline. Monarchs and Milkweed once made a home in the Kootenays and could do so again if we work together. We know if we can create an environment where Monarchs thrive, other pollinators will too. Please consider these ways we can all take action:
- Protect and conserve existing critical habitat.
Make a plan to protect and restore existing Monarch habitat, especially by protecting and cultivating populations of our own local Showy Milkweed genotype that has grown in the Kootenays for millenia. There are a handful of Kootenay sites that we are aware of that currently show signs of hosting Monarchs. We must protect them from encroachment to ensure they continue to thrive. You help do so by writing to local industrial and government land managers who steward these sites. Please get in touch if you would like to help. (email@example.com)
2. Ensure if you are planting milkweed species, it is the species native to our region Showy Milkweed – Asclepias speciosa.
Seeds and plants can be purchased here. Adult butterflies lay their eggs only on Milkweed and Milkweed is the only food caterpillars eat. Other native plants are incorporated into Monarch friendly sites to meet the needs of Monarchs and sustain their migration. Adult Monarchs need nectar from a variety of plants while in their summer breeding area. Native plants that we have observed Monarchs nectaring on in the West Kootenay include Canada Goldenrod, Fall Asters, and Pearly Everlasting. Late-blooming plants like these are especially important at the end of the season for Monarchs preparing for the long migration to California.
3. Work with local nurseries to suspend the use of neonicotinoids in Milkweed plants and ask them to carry the only BC native Milkweed species:
Showy Milkweed (Asclepias speciosa) is a herbaceous perennial plant native to western North America, and is the only native Milkweed species known to occur in the West Kootenay region. For a long time, Milkweed has been considered a ‘noxious weed’ and we have lost much of this native wildflower across our landscape.
4) Think BIG and engage local landowners, including business, industry and government
While any planting of Milkweed can assist survival of Monarchs, landscape sized sites of minimum 2 acres or more, (Waystations) provide the best habitat for Monarchs to thrive. Our broader community has a role to play in identifying, hosting and maintaining native plants sites that can act as Monarch Waystations.
5) Support KNPS with a donation
With your help, we can continue building a pathway for Pollinators and Monarchs in our region. Get in touch if you are interested in being a Monarch Waystation host yourself (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Links & Resources
A good primer on gardening for monarchs is available from the Monarch Joint Venture. They also include great information about monarch biology, habitat conservation and threats to the monarch migration.
The Butterflyway Project is a Canada wide initiative led by volunteers
Report your monarch sightings to https://www.mission-monarch.org/
Frequently Asked Questions
Where can I get Showy Milkweed seeds or plants?
KNPS has small quantities of seeds carefully harvested from local native Showy Milkweed populations. See us at local garden fests for seeds (and some seedlings) In addition, Kinseed is a local company that also harvests, cultivates and sells local native plants and seeds.
I want to help Monarchs. Can I buy and rear caterpillars and release them?
We all want to help Monarchs! Importing caterpillars or butterflies seems like a great way to increase the local Monarch population. We discourage this well-intentioned effort, based on the advice of leading Monarch scientists. Read their statement here: Are we helping or hurting monarchs…