Today, I was told that the diversity of my garden was bad for Monarch caterpillars. By planting more than just milkweed, I was attracting predators of the Monarch Caterpillar.
This person wasn’t wrong. Predators of Monarch Caterpillars are more likely to come if you have more plant species that attract them, but what happens if we only focus on saving Monarch Butterflies? What if we only plant milkweed and nothing but milkweed?
Imagine there’s a group of people lost in a forest. One of them shoots a flare in hopes that the search team will see it. When the search team sees the flare and finds the group, do they help just the person that shot the flare, or the entire group? In this case, the Monarch Butterfly is the one who shot the flare. It made us realize that there was something wrong. It made us want to save it. However, it actually told us that it was one of many species in need of help. It symbolizes a much bigger problem.
While planting milkweed will help the Monarch Butterfly population, it’s important that we don’t focus solely on Monarch Caterpillars, or many other species will slip away. We need to help all species. We need to restore the habitat, not just one or two species. Yes, there are predators of Monarch Caterpillars, that’s what nature is. In a prairie, caterpillars die. It can be cruel, but we shouldn’t try to create our own version of nature, where only the things we like survive. The reason Monarchs are declining isn’t because of predators, it’s because we’ve done unnatural things, specifically, destroying its habitat.
By planting a diverse native garden, you’re helping to re-create the habitat that many animals and insects need. That’s the key to fixing the bigger issue.