Over the past 15 years industrial agriculture has ramped up its use of the herbicide glyphosate on and around GMO crops engineered to be resistant to this milkweed killer. As a result, the migrating population of Monarch butterflies has dropped by more than 90 %. While the milkweed has died off, the "weeds" the farmers are trying to kill have grown stronger and more resistant to glyphosate. Now the chemical companies are selling farmers an even more powerful herbicide to combat the "super weeds". And, because the milkweed is not herbicide resistant it will no doubt start dying at an even faster rate. Trouble for the monarch butterflies!
And trouble for people too. Butterflies, like bees, are pollinators. We need them around to spread pollen around and fertilize many different plants. If we make it impossible for monarch butterflies to reproduce by taking away their milkweed, we lose them as pollinators of other plants that we need. All things are connected in the web of life. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
Let's hear it for environmental educators who teach students about the web of life. Let's hear it for the teachers that take their students to EE programs or teach ecological concepts themselves at school. We need a future generation of decision makers that understand ecology and the interconnectedness of all living things. And so do those delicately and spectacularly decorated black, white and orange monarch butterflies.