Agriculture can save the Monarch butterfly

Bright orange. With black and white markings. The distinctive Monarch is the king of butterflies.

If you can spot one. A number of factors has caused the decline of this beautiful insect. Illegal logging in Mexico, where the butterfly overwinters. A drought that has severely affected milkweed, the Monarch’s food source. And cattlemen treating the same milkweed as a pest.

Milkweed’s found mainly in pastures. Cows won’t eat it. But butterflies love it.

There’s a move afoot by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to bring Monarch numbers back. The butterflies are drawn to open spaces. Ranchers have plenty of that. The plan is to pay Texas ranchers to plant milkweed in less productive parts of their pastures to increase Monarch habitat.

Ranchers—who have the land the butterflies need—win. The Monarchs—which sorely need this habitat—win. And you and I—because we get to enjoy these beautiful insects—win.

Sounds like a win-win-win to me.

Author: Gene Hall – Texas Farm Bureau