ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Last week, one of the most recognized butterfly species in the world was added to the endangered species list.
Monarch butterflies in recent years have seen massive declines in their population, with some types being almost entirely wiped out, according to Anna Simpson, the Manager of Live Collections at The Strong Museum of Play.
Among other things, Simson oversees the Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden located inside The Strong.
“The monarch population has been facing a massive decline for decades now,” she said. “We’ve been seeing it drop off in some cases just absolutely plummet, a population loss of 75-99% of the population in some areas.”
The rampant decline in population is related to the butterflies losing their habitat as land that was once suitable for Monarch butterflies — prairies, meadows, and other grasslands — gets developed for other uses, such as agriculture.
Climate change can also play a factor, Simpson said, citing both issues as the biggest dangers to the butterfly’s numbers.
For those looking to help, even small contributions to fixing the issues of habitat loss can make a big impact.
This is especially true in Rochester, as the city is in a stop on the migration trail for some, and home for others in the Monarch family.
“Even if you just have a little deck at your apartment, you put a little planter out with milkweed, you can plant some flowers in your yard some cone flowers lantana, we have a ton of that here,” Simpson said. “That will help to support monarchs as well as all of our local native pollinators.”
Another way to get involved is to register to become an official Monarch Way Station with Monarch Watch. More details on what this entails can be found on their website.
For inspiration on what a way station looks like, you can visit the Strong Museum or head to the West River Walkway in Corn Hill where one is also located.