Preserving the Environment

Butterflies Without Borders

November 19, 2018
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Butterflies Without Borders
Alan Thompson
The monarch butterfly population has declined by 90 percent over the last two decades. Cities like San Antonio are in a unique position to help reverse that trend.

Monarch butterflies begin their annual migration in Michoacán, Mexico, passing through North America and Canada as temperatures warm, before heading back south to Mexico for the winter. They make a pivotal stop going both north and south on their great migration: San Antonio, Texas.

San Antonio became a “monarch champion city” in 2015, when former Mayor Ivy Taylor signed the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge: a list of 24 regulations to help make San Antonio safe for monarchs passing through the city on their migration, featuring action items like eliminating the use of dangerous pesticides, planting pollinator habitats and holding an annual butterfly festival to engage and inform locals.

Monika Maeckle is the director of the annual Butterfly and Pollinator Festival, where she works to inform San Antonians about the importance of monarchs, their place in the ecosystem and the significance of “tagging” individual butterflies. During the festival, Maeckle oversees a ceremonial release of monarchs, which then continue their migration south.

With the monarch population depleted by 90 percent over the past two decades, the time has never been more urgent to protect the butterflies — even as 250 miles south in Mission, Texas, workers are clearing land for a new section of the border wall. This section of the wall will cut directly through the National Butterfly Center’s pristine habitat planted just for monarchs.

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