Monarchs Fight for Their Lives

In The New York Times this week Verlyn Klinkenborg has written with sensitivity and passion about the Monarch Butterfly’s fight for its life in recent years. Here is the link:

One study the author cites suggests Monarchs might very likely be facing extinction. Illegal logging in Mexico, where they overwinter, has reduced their habitat, and the ecotourists who go there to witness their multitudes actually disturb the creatures they have come to observe.

Ironically the most critical element jeopardizing their lifecycle is the demise of milkweed. Monarchs rely almost exclusively on this plant, which farmers in the Northeast and Midwest consider a weed. Writes Klinkenborg:

There is a direct parallel between the demise of milkweeds — killed by the herbicide glyphosate, which is sprayed by the millions of gallons on fields where genetically modified crops are growing — and the steady drop in monarch numbers.

As a result of this revelation, townships and counties are now being asked to let milkweed thrive on their roadsides, and gardeners are being encouraged to nurture and cultivate the plant to help stave off “a butterfly disaster”. Klinkenborg observes that with increasing swiftness we are witness to a “world full of unintended consequences of our own making”.  These are consequences that cannot easily be undone.

To read the complete article go to this link:

Help bring back the Monarchs by planting milkweed and educating others about the importance of planting it. A great site to visit is:, which sells milkweed seed specific to areas in the United States. I got interested in trying a host plant called Poke Milkweed, or Asclepias exaltata, which does fine with only a few hours of morning sun or filtered light. The website states November is a great time to plant the seed in the Northeast. Water once, and then allow the rain and snow to provide needed moisture. My kind of seed!

We continue to see species in the natural world reduced from human impact. As gardeners we can make a difference with our actions and put host plants for Monarchs on our landscapes and in our gardens.  Here are some nurseries where you can get Milkweed plants in Connecticut:

Broken Arrow Nursery – – 203.288.1026

Earth Tones Native Plant Nursery and Landscapes – – 203.263.6626

Natural Attraction Project, Inc. – – 860.376.2513

Sunny Border Nurseries, Inc. – – 800.732.1627


For a comprehensive list of nurseries elsewhere in the United States:


About christinedarnelldesignstudio

Christine Darnell Design Studio is a landscape and garden design studio in Chester, CT. Imaginative plant combinations characterize the work with an artist’s eye towards texture and color. A strong commitment to environmentally considerate design runs through the practice, the support of local nurseries, and guidance towards the most environmentally sustainable materials and products. Adjunct Professor, Horticulture Dept. of Naugatuck Valley Community College, Waterbury, CT , Wetlands Commissioner for the Town of Chester, Vice President, APLD, Connecticut Chapter.
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