Protecting the monarch: Small steps can make big impact to save majestic butterfly

David Ono Image
ByDavid Ono via KABC logo
Friday, December 27, 2019
EMBED <>More Videos

As David Ono's daughter Kaia demonstrates, anyone can play a role in protecting the monarch butterfly, a majestic but diminishing species that migrates through California.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- There's a special connection between a child and a butterfly. Both seemingly float through life, carefree and innocent.

So it made perfect sense when my daughter Kaia was drawn to the colorful creatures; particularly the monarch.

Through the years she has learned about their delicate lives. With her mom's help, our home has become a certified Monarch Waystation - a safe haven for the little guys. Each year, as spring turns to summer, the adventure begins by planting milkweed.

"It's the only plant a monarch butterfly can lay its eggs and it's the only plant that a monarch caterpillar can eat," explained Kaia Ono. "You go to the milkweed plant and then you look under the leaves until you find a white, tiny blob."

The eggs are harvested, leaves and all, and brought inside where they are protected from predators and pesticides. Kaia then feeds their ferocious appetites with more milkweed.

The transformation is incredible; in a matter of days, they are huge, and then the magic begins.

"It usually will be in the chrysalis from 10 to 12 days and it will become clear and you can see the wings, and then it'll hatch and become a butterfly," said Kaia. "I get to hold it and that's fun. And it's fun to see them fly away."

But here's the sobering part of the story. These little miracles are dying at a staggering rate.

Travis Longcore is an endangered butterfly expert.

"The California migration had a wintering in the '80s and perhaps into the early '90s about four and a half, five million butterflies. And the latest count for overwintering on the California Coast was 30,000 butterflies," said Longcore. "There's real worry that the migration is threatened with extinction."

Global warming and pesticides are killing their natural environment including milkweed.

The monarch is a pollinator and one of many on a rapid decline.

That's catastrophic. We all have to play a role in stopping it.

"Without them we don't have food. We don't have our crops. We don't have our reproduction of plants," said Longcore.

"If everyone can do one small thing for the planet it could add up to one big thing," said Kaia.

So, what can we do to help save the Monarch?

First: Stop using pesticides that kill our natural environment, especially the milkweed.

Second: If you don't have any milkweed in your yard, plant some and let it thrive. The monarchs will do the rest.