“Just as efforts to preserve and conserve monarch butterflies multiply and to provide habitat… it is clear that there is still a long way to go.
It wasn’t always that dark; between 2018 and 2019, there was an unusual spike, which turned out to be a one-year problem.
That’s why the Monarch Nation hosted Monarch Flight Day on Saturday in communities across Canada – events that raise awareness and support the continent-wide effort to stabilize the species’ uncertain future.
Toronto’s flagship event took place at Tommy Thompson Park, a narrow waterfront peninsula nestled between Cherry Beach and Woodbine Beach.
The event marked one of the last occasions this season to spot a monarch in the city. Over the next few weeks, the monarchs of eastern Canada will begin their 5,000 kilometer trek south to Mexico for the winter.
A new generation of monarchs will then return north next spring.
“They’ve never been to Canada before, so it’s pretty neat to know that they instinctively know how to get here,” said Stewart.
‘We are losing ground every year’
What is behind the decrease in butterfly numbers, said Stewart, is a general loss of habitat primarily caused by agriculture and urban development. Climate change is also responsible for the decrease in population.
Lack of habitat also means less milkweed, which is the only plant a monarch will lay eggs on and caterpillars will eat, she said.
While there are efforts in Canada to help with planting and habitat preservation, some of the major habitat loss is occurring in the upper US Midwest, said Chip Taylor, director of Monarch Watch, an organization which follows the migration of monarchs.
“Unless we replace at least [809,000 hectares] habitat per year, we are losing ground each year, ”he said.
This trend is something Toronto Mayor John Tory is supporting in an attempt to curb.
In a proclamation signed by the Conservatives on Saturday, the city called August 22 “Day of the flight of the monarchs.”
Monarch Flight Day is a time to celebrate the growing movement to protect the monarch butterfly. Thanks to @TRCA_HQ the initiative to support community action to restore and improve the habitat of the local monarch. pic.twitter.com/a14yVBMeKD
– @ JohnTory
“Pollinators in Toronto and around the world are under increasing pressure from habitat loss, climate change, invasive species and pesticides,” the proclamation reads.
“We can all play a role in protecting them. “
How can I help you?
If you would like to help, there are a couple of ways to go.
Stewart said planting milkweed was extremely effective – something that wasn’t allowed in Ontario until 2014, when the plant was taken off the province’s noxious weed list.
“There has been a realization relatively recently that milkweed is the only plant that monarch butterflies will lay their eggs on,” she said.
“If you don’t have milkweed, you don’t have monarchs. “
Alternatively, if you see a monarch butterfly or milkweed, you can submit photos online, which helps scientists track them.
Check out more images of monarchs in Mexico.