Says the Post column: “As for this year’s low numbers, they might be linked to the harsh winter, which caused major plant death in the Washington area. Some believe the cold, wet and delayed spring took its own toll on early broods of butterflies.”
For a sense of what we are missing out on this summer, check out Marjorie Rachlin’s articles on the butterflies she often spots in her own Forest Hills backyard in Forest Hills.
The weather had perhaps the most immediate impact on the local butterfly population. But nationally, the butterfly population has been declining for years as habitat is lost to development. There’s something we can do about that, however. As the Post’s garden guru and Marjorie Rachlin point out in their articles, high-rise and backyard gardens can include plants that butterflies and caterpillars enjoy snacking on.
Click here to view a National Geographic video on efforts to create rest stops for Monarchs, and to teach amateur gardeners to do so.
These efforts may seem small, but the experts say they do make a difference. In the video, a biology professor at Virgina’s Sweet Briar College sounds a note of optimism: “I think that they can be saved. And I think the reason they can be saved is because enough people care about them.”
Have you noticed fewer butterflies in the parks and gardens this summer? What do you plant in your butterfly garden? We’re interested in your observations.