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Crop dusters spray corn to eradicate weeds including milkweed.

Do Herbicides Impact Monarch Butterflies?

Every year, the majestic monarch butterflies make their migration to Mexico for winter. These orange and black painted creatures travel over 2,500 miles to hibernate in warmer climates, before returning to the United States. Their numbers, however, are shrinking. In addition to deforestation, herbicide use is significantly impacting the species' survival.

Used in agricultural applications, herbicides are toxic to plants. Glyphosate, a key ingredient in herbicides, is known to destroy milkweed plants, the only food source for monarch caterpillars. When the monarch butterfly finds a milkweed plant, she lays her eggs on the leaves. When the eggs hatch, the baby caterpillar can feed on the milkweed leaves, which also makes them toxic to potential predators. Many people don't realize the impact herbicides have on the food we eat, the environment, and the monarch population.

Efforts across the country are being made to help the monarch population. By planting native milkweed in home gardens, along roadsides and fields, monarchs will have more access to them. Since milkweed plants can tolerate poor soil, there is no need to fertilize them; however, containing the plant is a little more tricky. Its tendency to spread is often the reason some people resort to herbicide use. Container planting is an option for those who are concerned about agressive milkweed plants.

Image: Copyright: <a href='https://www.123rf.com/profile_actionsports'>actionsports / 123RF Stock Photo</a> 

Herbicides have driven milkweed to near extinction in agricultural landscapes. As a result, monarchs are having difficulty finding places to lay their eggs and feed on their leaves. Food production in the United States could be ruined without the help of butterflies and other essential pollinators who help feed the world through pollination services. 

Monarch Flyway works with Nature to provide products that help people and protect biodiverse monarch habitat without the use of herebicides.