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Monarch Butterfly Conservation with the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge
Monarch butterfly on Joe-Pye Weed at Clark Botanic Garden
In 2018, the Town of North Hempstead first took the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge by National Wildlife Federation and has taken the pledge every year since. Through this program cities and towns pledge to take a number of specific actions to help the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) and other pollinators whose populations are diminishing in the wild.
The eastern monarch butterfly population has declined by more than 80% over the past two decades. This is due to numerous threats, particularly loss of habitat due to agricultural practices, development and cropland conversion. Another main reason for the decline is the eradication of milkweed both in agricultural areas as well as in urban and suburban landscapes, which is the sole food for monarch caterpillars. The degradation of wintering habitat in Mexico has had a negative impact as well. Climate change is affecting their migration timing and leading to destruction of habitat due to intense weather events (drought, hurricanes, flooding etc.).
In December 2020, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced that the monarch butterfly being listed on the Endangered Species Act is warranted, but precluded. This means that while the monarch should be listed as threatened or endangered the FWS doesn't have the resources to list it now due to other species waiting to be listed that are of higher priority. This means it is more important than ever that we take actions to help this declining species. In July 2022, the global conservation organization IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) listed the migratory population of monarch butterflies as endangered.
Through the pledge the Town of North Hempstead has committed to take many actions to help save the monarch butterfly including increasing public awareness of the issue, encouraging residents to build gardens for monarchs in their homes, and increasing monarch habitat on Town owned land.
Click HERE to visit the Town's personal Pledge page.
You can help too! Here are some ways you can help monarchs and pollinators in your yard and garden:
Plant native host plants - use native milkweed species, like butterfly milkweed, in your garden. Milkweed is the only food source for monarch caterpillars and adults also feed on the nectar in their blooms.
Plant native nectar plants - plants like Joe-Pye weed and goldenrod species provide important food and habitat for monarchs and other pollinators.
Click HERE for a list of native plants to incorporate into your yard! Also, this website is a great resource which allows you to search for plants native to our area as well as where they can be purchased: https://www.audubon.org/native-plants
The Town has planted many pollinator gardens to help monarchs and other pollinators. Click here to learn where you can see them as well as other native plantings in the Town's parks.
Click here for more information and to register for the free Native Plant Gardening Workshop offered by the Town.
Don’t use pesticides - if possible do not use pesticides near your butterfly garden or anywhere on your property. Insecticides can be lethal to butterflies and herbicides can kill their host plants.
Provide puddling areas - puddling gives monarchs a place to drink and extract minerals like salt. A tiny, shallow pool of water can work as long as it is stirred up regularly so mosquitoes cannot breed (once butterflies visit they will deter mosquitoes as well). Very moist sand or dirt is a better option since it will provide water as well as minerals, like salt, for butterflies. You can place coarse sand in a shallow pan and then insert the pan into the soil of your yard or garden. You will need to add water to these areas regularly since it will evaporate with sun and heat.
Provide a resting place - Putting flat stones in your garden in a sunny spot will give monarchs a place to rest and warm their wings for flight.
Create a Monarch Waystation - Once you have created monarch habitat in your yard you can also certify your site as a monarch waystation with Monarch Watch here. You can also visit Clark Botanic Garden’s pollinator garden, which the Town has certified as a monarch waystation!
Share Your Actions - If you have created any type of pollinator garden or habitat for monarchs we would love if you could share it with the Monarch Joint Venture's Monarch Conservation Efforts Map. You can view the locations of all of the Town's pollinator plantings on this map as well. It is interactive so you can see what actions are being taken to help monarchs around the country.
Citizen Science - You can help monitor monarch butterfly sightings in your area
- Monarch Larva Monitoring Project (Monarch Joint Venture and University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum)- this project uses volunteers from across the United States and Canada to collect long-term data on monarch distribution and abundance during the breeding season. You can help to conserve monarchs by helping the scientists understand about monarch migration and ecology. The Town participates in this project by monitoring milkweed at Clark Garden for monarch eggs, larvae and pupae!
- The North American Butterfly Association- here you can log all butterfly sightings, including monarchs, so scientists can learn about butterfly distributions, abundance, and conservation.
- Monarch Watch- with this organization you can order tags and place them on monarch butterflies to help scientists track their migration.
Each year the Town tags many monarch butterflies at Clark Botanic Garden to participate in Monarch Watch's research.
Monarch being tagged at Clark Botanic Garden
Learn more about saving monarchs and gardening for wildlife at: