What Does Declining Monarch Butterfly Population Mean?

You may have heard recent reports about the declining monarch butterfly population. How could that trend impact residents across Greater Houston?


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hands on with monarch butterfly
Photo courtesy of The Monarch Institute/Monarch School


Students at Houston’s Monarch Institute are captivated as Dara Satterfield presents a small cage of butterflies. Satterfield studies the insects’ migration across North America. Along the way, they pollinate many of the plants that produce our food.

But in recent years, that migration has been disrupted, and the monarch population has dwindled. So why should you care? Satterfield describes what supermarkets could look like if we lost these butterflies.

“We would lose apples, broccoli, alfalfa, almonds, blueberries, cucumbers, peaches, soybeans, strawberries, pears and plums,” she says.

It is recommended to plant native varieties, like Antelope Horns milkweed, Green milkweed and Showy Milkweed. Photo courtesy of The Monarch Institute/Monarch School

Honey bees also help with pollination, but Satterfield says they only account for about half. The rest depends on insects like monarchs.

Mexico saw an uptick in its monarch population last year. But Satterfield says we need to see 10 or 20 more years of an increase to save the species.

“We know that they’ve bounced back before, and they can bounce back again,” she says. “We just need to give them the chance, so we have to give them the right habitat.”

Satterfield encourages Texans to plant native milkweeds to help feed monarchs. 


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