by Connie Oswald Stofko
The bad news is that the number of monarch butterflies has been decreasing in the past 20 years. Monarchs may be given protection under the Endangered Species Act in 2019.
The good news is that the number of monarchs in Western New York appears to be on the upswing.
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While he doesn’t have a count of the number of monarchs that came through Western New York, many more monarchs were observed this autumn, said Jay Burney, the author of the monarch article in the POLLINATOR.
I’ll add my own anecdotal report. Enjoying some hot days in late summer, I saw monarchs flitting around the swimmers at Woodlawn Beach, something I never noticed before.
Burney isn’t sure why there are more monarchs now, but points out that groups have been working hard to establish monarch habitat here.
The Pollinator Conservation Association, which is based in Western New York, as well as the Friends of Times Beach Nature Preserve and other organizations and agencies, have worked together to plant native milkweeds. Milkweed plants are host plants, used by monarchs for breeding.
These groups have also encouraged fall-flowering plants such as native asters and goldenrod. These flowers provide nourishing nectar for monarchs as they migrate to their winter homes in Mexico. The flowers have been situated in strategic areas, such as Buffalo’s Outer Harbor. Monarchs traveling from the north across Lake Erie and the Niagara River use these sites as rest stops during the long journey.
You can see a video of hundreds of monarchs at the Times Beach Nature Preserve in Buffalo here. (Scroll down to the bottom of page 2.)