An organization called Mission Blue Butterfly have established habitats for butterflies in the state of California. A 2,000 acre butterfly reservation area is managed by the Parks and Recreation Department on San Bruno Mountain in San Mateo County. The project involves replanting host plants that butterflies thrive on, and conserving the land.
We must ensure that the habitats for butterflies are not destroyed or altered in a negative way. For some butterflies, like monarchs, we must include their summer and winter habitats as they migrate. This is particularly difficult because they spend the winter in Mexico; it is always more difficult when international agreements are sought.
We must also reduce the runoff from pesticides and the overuse of pesticides. Caterpillars will feed on plants that have been sprayed (or perhaps are close to an agricultural feed and have received a mist or run-off of sprayed pesticides) and they are dying or not developing correctly.
You can help butterfly populations by planting plants that are native to your area. Do not use pesticides on the plants. Provide a small puddle where butterflies can get needed minerals.
Preservation of the habitats and plants required for their life cycle is an important step. An additional effort that is being done is to research them. The more we can learn about their needs and life the better we can be able to help preserve them. As a child I raised monarchs and black swallow tails in my home and was part of a research project to record the number of butterflies we had each summer, and tag the ones that would migrate south to Mexico. This study was done by a lab at the University of Minnesota, and there are many others that look at how butterflies reproduce, thrive and navigate their migration.
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