Save the Monarch Butterflies!
America’s most famous butterfly is in trouble. In the last 20 years, the Monarch Butterfly’s only food source, milkweed, has steadily disappeared from the U.S. As a result, Monarch Butterflies have nowhere to eat and lay eggs as they undergo their momentous journey (in the Western U.S.) across the Western United States to California and back each year.
Many scientists see the plight of the Monarchs as a “canary in a coal mine.” They fear that other important pollinators may be headed to the same fate due to habitat destruction, which will negatively impact our ecosystem overall.
Why Monarchs Matter
On top of being a beautiful example of American butterflies, Monarchs are amazing insects because:
- They carry out the longest insect migration on the planet (traveling for thousands of miles)
- They spend their winters in California if they live west of the Rocky Mountains and spend their winters in Mexico if they are born east of the Rockies
- Their migrations occur over multiple generations, with each generation picking up where the previous generation left off
- They have very specialized food needs, only laying their eggs on milkweed plants
Taking Action to Save the Monarchs
You Can Make a Difference
You can help save the Monarch Butterflies. Here are a few ways you can take action:
- Learn more about the amazing Monarchs
- Plant native milkweed in your yard to provide food and shelter
- Create a pollinator garden at your school to attract Monarchs and other pollinators
- Spread the word to your friends and family so that they join the campaign
- Donate to organizations helping to create pollinator gardens and Monarch Way Stations
Learn how to make a pollinator garden at your school in this video sponsored by the Howard Hughes Corporation.
Where We Grow
Green Our Planet’s Pollinator Gardens and Monarch Way Stations
Green Our Planet’s Pollinator Garden Program
Did you know that every third mouthful of food you eat is thanks to animals that pollinate plants? And that 75% of the world’s flowering plants and 35% of the world’s food crops depend on animal pollinators to reproduce?
And that if you removed pollinators from the planet, that many of our ecosystems would totally collapse? Meanwhile, the population of pollinators has dropped roughly 50% around the world in the last three decades.
One way you can help pollinators and learn more about them is by building a pollinator garden at your school!
The Las Vegas Valley used to be a haven for beneficial, pollinating birds, mammals and insects, with native plants cascading across the desert. Now, most of the Valley has been paved over and pollinators, like the Monarch Butterfly and countless others, struggle to find enough food. That’s why Green Our Planet started its pollinator garden program back in 2017. Since then, we’ve installed more than 100 pollinator gardens at schools across southern Nevada, which helps both to restore native habitat and also teaches students about the critical role pollinators play around the world (see map).
Our pollinator gardens contain an assortment of native flowering plants from the Mojave Desert that use their flowers to attract pollinators such as bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Most of these pollinators visit the plants to drink sugary nectar. While the pollinators drink, the plant’s pollen rubs off onto their bodies. Then, when a pollinator flies to another plant of the same species, the pollen falls off and fertilizes the seed embryos waiting within the flower.
These animals are accidental pollinators—they visit for the nectar yet help plants reproduce. The pollinators help the plants and the plants help the pollinators. That’s called “symbiosis” and students can witness this process–which has been occurring on Earth for more than 100 million years–at their schools.
A typical pollinator garden contains at least 10 milkweed plants (which allow schools to get certified as “Monarch Way Stations”) and 6+ species of native flowering plants. With a pollinator garden at school, students learn about habitat restoration, the important role pollinators play in the environment, and also about the Monarch Butterfly migration, which is the longest insect migration on Earth.
Las Vegas just happens to be on the flyway of Monarchs living west of the Rocky Mountains, which winter in California and need food (milkweed and other plants) for their journey. Essentially, by creating pollinator gardens, schools create tiny oases where the Monarchs (and other pollinators) can rest, feed, and reproduce.
Did you know that…
- 75% of the world’s flowering plants and about 35% of the world’s food crops depend on animal pollinators to reproduce?
- Many pollinators, like Monarch Butterflies and bee species, are decreasing in population due to pesticides and habitat loss?
- You can help these pollinators increase their numbers by planting native plants?
- Monarch Butterflies west of the Rocky Mountains spend the winter in California and Monarchs east of the Rockies spend the winter in Mexico?
- Monarch Butterflies only lay their eggs on milkweed plants?