What is Orange and Black and Travels 2,500 miles to Winter?

Posted in: Organic Living
By Naturepedic Team
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What is Orange and Black and Travels 2,500 miles to Winter?

Monarch Butterfly on Milkweed

Nearly a billion monarch butterflies have vanished over the past 25 years, a loss of over 90 percent of its population. That’s right—90 percent. The iconic orange-and-black winged insect experienced its lowest recorded population from 2013 through 2014, and if nothing is done to combat their decline the numbers will continue to fall. One cause of the species near extinction? Weed control, along with the loss of prairies, especially along the its migratory routes.

And after a winter spent in central Mexico or coastal California, monarchs are on the move again. “Fluttering 25 to 30 miles a day, the insects are headed north and east toward breeding grounds that by mid-summer will stretch from coast to coast across the United States and as far north as southern Canada,” said Laura Tangley in National Wildlife®.

Ninety-nine percent of North America’s monarch population live in Mexico’s oyamel fir forests throughout the winter months. According to National Wildlife, “[s]cientists estimate that in the winter of 2014 to 2015, these forests housed 56.6 million monarchs—up 69 percent from the previous year’s survey.” The remainder of the continent’s monarchs winter in California. The same number of monarch were recorded this year as last year; 234,732 butterflies at 185 sites.


This species lays its eggs exclusively on milkweed. Conversion of prairies into cropland and the increasing use of weed killer-resistant crops have greatly reduced the extent of milkweed, officials said. The federal government announced February 9, 2015 to pledge $3.2 million this year to help save the monarch butterfly. About $2 million will go toward conservation programs, with the balance to go to the Monarch Conservation Fund, to be administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

A petition to list the monarch as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act is under review by the Department of the Interior.

For almost 2-million years, the monarch’s lucid orange and black colors have warned predators not to touch, that they are poisonous. This inherent self-defense mechanism, however, does not protect against their top predator, the one responsible for their decline: homo sapiens.

Monarchs, although seemingly dainty are in many ways mighty. From their migration efforts to what they teach us about metamorphosis, aposematic coloration, and mimicry, their extinction would be a huge loss for our Planet’s ecosystem.

You can help reverse the damage. This spring, create a monarch butterfly habitat in your backyard or community garden. Naturepedic is building a butterfly habitat at company headquarters on Earth Day, April 22, 2015. We will be planting flowers and seeds, such as milkweed, for the monarch’s that live in and fly through Northeast Ohio.

Here's a how-to guide for planting your own butterfly garden.

5 years ago
Naturepedic Earth Day Butterfly Garden | Naturepedic Blog
4 years ago at 7:14 AM
[…] What’s Orange and Black and Travels 2,500 miles to Winter? […]
4 Steps for a #DIY Butterfly Garden | Naturepedic Blog
4 years ago at 8:57 AM
[…] This Earth Day, we’re gathering our gardening gloves and spades and planting a butterfly and bee habitat at Naturepedic headquarters! Because of weed control and other human-led endeavours, butterflies—especially monarchs—are having a tough time finding flowers to migrate to. For more information, read the first blog in our mini series about why we need to save monarch butterflies. […]

What is Orange and Black and Travels 2,500 miles to Winter?

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