Mystery of the Monarchs

Marc Morrone writes a Question and Answer based column in the pets section of Newsday. He recently received a question on why there has been a lower and lower population of Monarch Butterflies on Long Island. Here is the question and answer, and helps solve the mysterious problem of the Monarchs.

Question: “I have lived on the south shore for the past 40 year. Each year I notice that there are fewer and fewer monarch butterflies that migrate through my yard in fall. I have planted butterfly bushes and other flowering plants for them to feed off, but each year there are fewer anyway. Is there anything else I can do to help them increase in population?”

Answer: “Flowering plants help, of course, but what the monarch butterflies really need are more patches of milkweed to lather eggs on as that is the only thing their caterpillars eat. No milkweed, then no monarchs. Milkweed is a native plant and not a weed. It is not invasive and looks quite pretty. If everyone planted some in their yards or in pots on their patios, life would be a bit less hard for the monarchs. There are lots of companies such as live that offer milkweed seeds to people like you who want to be sure that future generations will still be able to experience the monarch butterfly. I will be sure to bring this subject up again in late winter when people are buying seeds for their spring gardens.” 

Thank you to Marc Morrone and Newsday for the original article. If you have any pet related questions, you can send them to: Marc Morrone, c/o Marjorie Robins, Newsday, 235 Pinelawn Rd., Melville, NY 11747-4226, or email them to

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