Monarch Migration in Danger Here in the Brazos Valley

By: Shane McAuliffe Email
By: Shane McAuliffe Email

As Craig Wilson with the USDA strolls around the garden by his office on Holleman, he can spot pretty much every bug in the neighborhood.

Wilson has an affinity for insects, especially the monarch butterfly.

"It's quite miraculous. We just take it for granted. I'm trying to make sure the kids don't," said Wilson.

The problem is the monarch is in the middle of a massive decline. With the recent drought and wildfires in Texas, the number of Monarchs making the over 2,000 mile trip between Canada and Mexico is fading fast.

"They're sending reports that it's down to historic lows. The area covered by the monarchs is just a couple of hectors," said Wilson.

But Wilson is hoping to reverse that trend by promoting a plant crucial to the survival of the marvelous monarch.

"It's amazing, you plant it and they will come," said Wilson.

It turns out a lack of milkweed plants is the main concern when it comes to the monarch butterfly and in the USDA garden you'll find plenty of it but Wilson wants to see more. It's the plant monarchs use for food and to lay their eggs and in the next coming weeks the monarchs will be making their way from Mexico back to Canada. The first part of the trek takes them right through the Lone Star State.

"If people can just pick up some milkweeds and plant them," said Wilson.

And that's where the Producers Cooperative in Bryan spreads its wings to cover the cause.

"Dr. Wilson was very informative letting us know about the monarch migration and we thought this would be something the residents of the Brazos Valley would be interested in," said Hope Bay Moriarty with Producers Cooperative.

Producers has a small number of milkweed plants available but with so many local gardeners doing their part to help the monarch make its move north, more milkweed is expected.

"On Monday, we expect a triple order to come in," said Moriarty.

"Yeah, they jumped on board so I was very impressed," said Wilson.

It's all in an effort to help the mystery of the monarch migration keep flight well into the future.

"It unites Mexico, the USA and Canada. I think it would be devastating to see it disappear," said Wilson.

It takes three generations of monarch butterflies to make the trip from Mexico to Canada but the butterflies that make it Canada are the ones that fly back to Mexico in the fall despite never ever being there. It's one of the great mysteries of the monarch butterfly.


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