This apparently has been a particularly good year for Monarch Butterflies. The weather can be credited but this year’s increase in Monarch numbers is due in no small part to land caretakers doing their part to support the most well-known butterfly. Also acknowledged as the milkweed butterfly, the Monarch depends upon the milkweed as a place to lay eggs. The milkweed is so important because when the eggs hatch the larvae spend two weeks feeding on the milkweed plant.
The milkweed is a critical part of the Monarch not just for one life cycle per year but for four series. The fourth generation is hatching now at Maple Hill Urban Farm (MHUF). This is a very special event because these butterflies will survive longer than the first three annual generations. This generation will soon start their 4,500 km journey to the highlands of Michoacán, Mexico for overwintering. The butterflies we see at the farm will continue the rhythm of nature in the spring laying fresh eggs on more milkweeds.The Milkweed plant has been devastated by modern agricultural practices, specifically spraying glyphosate (brand name RoundUp) on genetically modified crops (GMO). Glyphosate kills everything except the GMO crops giving new meaning to monoculture.
Here at MHUF and at many other farms with conscientiouscaretakers, we grow our share of milkweeds. We also take pride in providing honeybee habitat. Since Monarchs are pollinators like the honeybee, they share space like any community in nature.
Monarch Butterfly at MHUF
Milkweeds growing in bird refuge habitat at MHUF