MONARCH BUTTERFLIES: they are identifiable by any school child. And they are common as robins and daisies, right? Not necessarily. Don’t take anything beautiful for granted.
Scientists have documented a 90% decline in numbers of this iconic species since the mid-1990s. Part of this is because of over-use of herbicides on farms, yards, and roadsides that kill the monarch caterpillar’s only food source. Maybe this beautiful plant, an essential part of our ecosystem, suffers just from having the word “weed” as part of its name.
Monarch butterflies migrate annually thousands of miles from food and milkweed host-plants sources in North America as far north as the Canadian border, to their winter gathering grounds in the southern Mexican state of Michuacan. See a map I made of the Monarch migration routes.
The idea behind the poster design is to connect monarchs with milkweeds in the minds of people from government officials, to farmers, to people maintaining their yards, to school kids. Monarchs don’t just fly around on their own, unconnected to anything else. They are connected to everything, especially to milkweeds. Monarchs and Milkweeds have one of nature’s long-term relationships.
By protecting stands of Milkweeds from over-spraying, and also planting them in designated safe places, we can restore this link in the butterfly life cycle.
I designed and illustrated this poster for MakeWayforMonarchs.org as part of a national campaign to encourage people to not only protect, but actually plant milkweeds. Based on a letter to President Barack Obama drafted by the “Group of 50”, Gary P. Nabhan, noted author, scientist and organizer of the Monarch campaign, was invited to the White House on April 29 for a meeting aimed at gaining multi-agency government support for a monarch recovery initiative.
As the letter says:
As monarch biologists, pollination ecologists, science educators, farmers and non-profit leaders, we are grateful that the leaders of the United States, Mexico and Canada have already pledged to work together to protect the monarch butterfly and its incredible migration as a symbol of international cooperation. We recognize that the population trends of the monarch butterfly can only be reversed through the collective actions of federal and state government agencies, private landowners, non-governmental organizations, land trusts, and other land managers.
A hundred copies of this poster will go with Gary to Washington.
Download your own free Make Way for Monarchs poster. It’s designed to print for about a dollar at any quick printer, like Kinkos or OfficeMax, using a laser printer. The image is 12 x 18 inches. Ask the printer to trim it down to have it bleed to the edges of the paper. They will probably do it while you wait.