Monarchs have always been an iconic symbol of Spring, vitality, an indicator of ecological health, and they are the best known North American butterfly. They are a unique species that migrate from Mexico to Canada and back, taking up to four generations to reach Canada and one generation to make it back to Mexico. Tulsa is along the migration path, and we have seen them here as early as April and as late as November.
In recent decades, urban sprawl and a sharp rise in the use of herbicides and pesticides have eradicated the plants they need to live. Late frosts have been killing millions of monarchs in their winter habitats in Mexico, and illegal logging continues to devastate their wintering host trees.
Photo credit: Sandra Schwinn
At best, we can sustain their numbers. The best way is to plant thousands of acres of milkweed, the only plant on which Monarchs lay eggs, and nectar plants, whose flowers provide fuel for the butterflies.
We backyard gardeners can help, too, by planting milkweed and blooming plants that the monarchs love. It is easy, fun and not very expensive. Let’s Make Tulsa a Monarch City!