The ongoing severe California drought is bad news for wildlife, overall. However, in a surprising conservation success, the drought may be helping to fuel the rebound of monarch butterflies along the Pacific coast. As water restrictions increasingly limit how much homeowners are allowed to water landscaping plants, more people are turning to native plants for a drought-tolerant alternative--including milkweed, the species monarchs lay their eggs on. Growing availability of plants that represent critical habitat may help speed a rebound from previous severe population declines.
Of course, monarchs are also dependent on a range of other initiatives, from efforts to curb pesticide use to protection of their overwintering grounds in Mexico. If you are interested in helping to create monarch habitat where you live, Monarch Joint Venture has a program to help you find seeds or plants of milkweed native to your area. There are also a lot of opportunities to contribute to monarch research and conservation as a citizen scientist, and they've provided a helpful round-up of those programs here.
If you just want to learn more about monarchs and their amazing migrations (up to 3,000 miles!) you can check out some spectacular photos or read more from National Geographic here.
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