This past winter scientists recorded the lowest number ever of overwintering monarchs in Mexico. The World Wildlife Fund reports a 59% decline in just the past year. This is due to a number of factors including winter habitat loss, fewer milkweed plants, pesticide and herbicide use. Unfortunately there's no one quick fix (of course planting milkweed in your garden is a big help). What I am afraid of is that we're seeing the impact of these record low numbers here in the Northeast. I'm hoping the butterflies are just late due to the colder than usual spring, I'm keeping my fingers crossed. If anyone has seen monarchs please leave me a comment on when and where.
Slow the Flow Grant from US Fish and Wildlife. Our certified Monarch Waystation has exploded with returning swamp milkweed, butterflyweed, joe-pye weed, echinacea, ox-eye sunflowers, New Jersey tea, yarrow and white snakeroot. I even pruned back some of the larger perennials to expose the swamp milkweed hoping the monarchs could see it better.
Despite the record heat wave of the past week I've been slowly tearing out a patch of ancient non-native vinca that doesn't even flower. In its place I'm planting a blueberry hedge, and if I'm lucky my kids will even let my husband and me eat some.
Once the heat breaks I'll start dealing with some of the run-off issues that have been bothering me. The mini rain garden has been doing an amazing job of trapping all the water from the rear roof. But the heavy rains of June and early July have been washing right down the side and back yards and into the river. With some leveling, terracing and ditches in the side yard I plan to force as much rain water as I can back into the ground before it washes straight out to the Atlantic. The whole point of the Slow the Flow grant is to encourage property owners to direct storm water into the ground and not straight out to sea thereby preventing large floods and later droughts. My 0.3 acres might be small, but every little drop helps.
|Lizzie releasing one of our raised monarchs last August.|
UPDATE July 20th: This morning I found our first monarch egg, and had another three by the end of the day. In the late afternoon I finally spotted an actual monarch flying through the yard! So they're here!