We need to protect milkweed
To the Editor,
I am writing in response to the Aug. 1 issue’s letter by Bob Heyes, titled “Dysart helps save the monarchs.”
It is great to hear that Dysart is doing something about the declining monarch problem, and hopefully more counties have started or will start doing the same.
One of the reasons that their habitat is being destroyed throughout North America is that few people realize the importance of butterflies. Many people are trying to help, but those in authority with the power to make a positive change haven’t made enough of an effort.
I was happy to read that Heyes emphasized in his letter how “milkweed is the sole food of the monarch caterpillar and an abundance of healthy plants is essential for the successful life cycle of this once familiar butterfly.”
I have found there are two responses to this statement. First: “There’s plenty of milkweed to go around.” And second: “The caterpillars can just move to a different food source.” The reality is that they simply can’t eat anything else, and they need a lot of food to survive and thrive. We as a whole need to stop destroying the milkweed plants.
There are several ways everyone can help. As mentioned above, don’t cut down or use pesticides on milkweed plants. If you choose to collect and raise monarch caterpillars, do it properly and safely to ensure you are helping them survive.
I have been finding and raising caterpillars since I was six years old, and at 21, I am still continuing to do so. Every summer on average, I would find between 25 and 50 caterpillars (some of which I raised from the egg). When I was 11, I collected 114 – a few years later, 185, the most I have ever raised. Since then, I have found fewer every year. Last year, I didn’t find so much as a single caterpillar. This year is more promising, as I have collected 34 caterpillars so far.
This letter concerns monarch butterflies, but the message applies to all at-risk and endangered species. These creatures are part of this earth just as we are – let’s make sure they’re around for our children and grandchildren to live with.