One of Earth's Greatest Natural Wonders
Right now at this very moment, one of earth's most amazing natural wonders is taking place in Mexico. Nearly 100 million monarch butterflies from all over the USA and Canada have migrated south to the mountains of Central Mexico where they are over-wintering prior to their return flight this Spring. We've described the Monarch migration in previous blogs-- it's the most complex migration pattern of any known species on earth.
A Monarch butterfly we reared at Stonehurst, here in Vermont. She could well be one of those in the photo above after making a 3000 mile migration from VT to Mexico last Fall.
Monarch Butterflies Are on the Brink of Extinction
Over the past 20 years the monarch population has declined by 90 percent. During the winter of 1996-1997, scientists estimated there were a billion monarchs over-wintering in Mexico. An estimate from last year found only about 35 million, a number so low that several environmental organizations are petitioning the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to classify monarch butterflies as "threatened" under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
Reforestation of the Monarch Habitat in Michoacan, Mexico is being led by Jose Luis Alvarez of the La Cruz Habitat Protection program LCHPP (aka Forests for Monarchs). I'm heading to Mexico in late February to work with Jose Luis. You should join us!
You Can Help Save Them
Love nature? Here are a couple ways you can help save the amazing Monarch butterfly from extinction:
Help Restore Monarch Habitat in the USA and Canada
Monarchs need milkweed and nectar plants to survive and thrive during the summer months they spend in the US and Southern Canada. We've written many blogs about how to plant milkweed and we even have milkweed seeds we'll be happy to send you if you'd like to get involved.
Help Restore Monarch Habitat in Mexico
At Vermont Woods Studios we've allied with the La Cruz Habitat Protection Program LCHPP in an effort to Plant a Million Trees every year in the Monarch's overwintering area in Michoacan, Mexico. I'll be writing more about LCHPP, a leading organization in the race to save the Monarch, but for a glimpse of their work check out this video.
Join us on the Spirit of Butterflies tour Feb-March 2016. Photo courtesy of Homero Gomez Gonzalez.
Spirit of Butterflies Tour
For the adventurous nature lover, here's another way to help save the Monarchs. Contact Maraleen Manos-Jones who works with LCHPP and sign up for the trip of a lifetime: a tour of the Monarch butterflies over-wintering forest habitat in Michoacan, Mexico. Leading the tour will be Jose Luis Alvarez, co-founder of LCHPP and renowned expert on Monarchs and reforestation of their habitat. I'm taking the tour at the end of February... why don't you join me? I'll provide details in my next blog but in the meantime, you can check out what other travelers have said about visiting monarch over-wintering sites on TripAdvisor.
I took the photo of Kendall 15 years ago when we were rearing wild monarchs in Vermont. Now there are none to be found. Check out the link to National Geographic's film about the monarch story.
Why Does A Furniture Company Care?
Vermont Woods Studios was founded on a mission of forest conservation. From the beginning we set out not only to provide our customers with the best value & quality for Vermont made wood furniture but also to conserve the forests that provide wood for furniture. That mission of forest conservation coupled with my history of studying Monarchs with Kendall and Riley when they were little, made this project with LCHPP and Spirit of Butterflies a perfect fit. I hope you'll join us as we work to help bring this iconic species back and conserve them for future generations.