Monarch Butterflies are an important resident of Toronto’s waterfront community, but they need our help.
As part of the Toronto Port Authority (TPA)’s ongoing efforts to protect the environment and preserve natural habitats, this week the TPA planted a butterfly garden at the Outer Harbour Marina, consisting of nearly 100 milkweed plants to support the Monarch Butterfly.
Every year Monarch Butterflies make one of the furthest and most remarkable journeys of any insect –they fly more than 5000 kilometres from Mexico to return to the North for the spring. However, last year saw a record low of the number of Monarch Butterflies returning from the South, and experts are concerned it’s a sign that the species is at risk of disappearing altogether.
Some of the reasons for the decline are extreme weather and the loss of plants such as milkweed, the Monarch Butterfly’s primary food source. In an effort to revive the Monarch Butterfly population before it’s too late, the David Suzuki Foundation and other environmental groups launched campaigns urging the public to take action by planting milkweed in their gardens, parks and green spaces.
The Toronto Port Authority selected the Outer Harbour Marina as the home of the butterfly garden due to its location and proximity to the shoreline. Butterfly expert and Author of How to Raise Monarch Butterflies, Carol Pasternak says, “Monarchs follow Lake Ontario on their return to Toronto, so it is especially important that there be plenty of milkweed on the shores to greet the Monarchs as they return to our breeding grounds in late spring. Milkweed is the only plant on which Monarchs can lay their eggs. Later during the summer, milkweed blooms will provide much needed nectar for a diverse range of Monarchs, other butterflies and other pollinators. At that time, milkweed will host yet another generation of Monarch Caterpillars.”
For more information or to find out what you can do to help save the Monarch Butterfly, visit the David Suzuki Foundation’s website.