One Small Step for Monarchs

Hope is in the air since this past Tuesday’s election results from New Jersey, Virginia, Maine, and elsewhere. Not only that, but there is some positive garden-related news as well.

2015-07-06 10.05.05-1
Monarch feeding on Rose Milkweed

Here in my home state of Illinois, the legislature passed a bill that would prohibit local governments from listing Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) or any other native Asclepias species as a noxious weed. Practically speaking, this means that landowners can plant and grow Milkweeds, and no Village Board or County Commission can tell them otherwise.

Milkweeds, of course, are crucial to the future of Monarch butterflies, since Monarch caterpillars feed only on plants from this genus. Once common in fields and vacant lots, the advent of Roundup-ready corn and soybeans have made Milkweeds rather scarce. And yet, many continue to regard it as a plant that ought to be stamped out.

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The legislation was sponsored by State Representative Anna Moeller, who also sponsored a bill designating Milkweeds as the state wildflower. Thankfully, both bills were passed with large, bipartisan majorities.

Further afield, this article in the Guardian tells us that the United Kingdom will support a total ban on neonicotinoid insecticides throughout the European Union. Neonicotinoids are considered to be a significant factor contributing to the decline of bees and other pollinators.

A partial ban by the EU has been in effect since 2013, but a more comprehensive prohibition has been proposed. The UK’s changed in position makes the prohibition, which could be voted on in December, more likely. (Nice that they can apparently do something constructive before Brexit takes affect.)

The state of Maryland and a number of US cities have also banned neonicotinoids.

All is not lost, but that is all for now.


31 Comments on “One Small Step for Monarchs”

  1. Hi Jason. That is good news about the UK, but interesting how it is reported in the Guardian article… the EU has NOT spoken out for a ban, but has ‘suggested’ a five year extension of licences. There is, however, no majority for this standpoint from the EU countries. In the last vote on Thursday 9th November Germany (sadly) abstained and only half of the EU countries supported the proposed extension, which means Germany voting against the extension could sway the balance; the next vote is at the end of November. There has to be a decision soon as licences run out mid-December, so I am keeping my fingers crossed that the numerous petitions being signed right now may put pressure on our government!

  2. Beautiful pictures, and yay for all the good news this week. As a Mainer, I was particularly pleased by the results of the Medicaid referendum, but I was cheered by results in other parts of the country, too. Maybe monarchs and milkweed should be symbols for progressives.

  3. Sometimes you have to wonder if the “noxious weed” lawmakers are just looking for something to do. They like other researchers will tell us in a few years that the banned plants are okay to replant. Sheesh! I do love milkweed, although for sometime it was a bit obnoxious in my gardens!

  4. I’ve debated planting any milkweed for a few years now because of its invasive tendencies. I have enough problems with wild grass and Joe-Pye. My local community finally did something about purple loosestrife many years ago, Now I wish they would tackle glossy-leaved buckthorn. It is squeezing out all of our native trees on roadsides.

  5. I wasn’t aware the legislature had passed this bill–it’s nice to know they can do something productive for once! I’ve been encouraged by the number of milkweed plants I’ve seen along the roadsides this year, not to mention the number of Monarchs I saw in my own garden.

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