COLORADO SPRINGS – Monarch butterflies are getting ready for their fall migration to Mexico, and a butterfly expert right here in Colorado Springs is raising Monarchs, a native species that could soon become endangered.
“I call it nature’s best magic trick because people don’t realize this caterpillar sheds its skin off to create the chrysalis,” said Andrew Cronk of Phelan Gardens. “It’s not spun around it, it’s skin underneath.”
Cronk says the butterflies used to be everywhere, but their populations are going down every year. He contributes this decline partly to the eradication of a plant called milk weed.
Milk weed is a native plant that is actually toxic to cattle, and was thus eradicated across much of the U.S., according to Cronk. He says that without milk weed as a stepping stone for the butterflies to breed, many aren’t able to complete their migration.
According to Cronk, no butterfly will make the complete migration anymore. “One butterfly will probably make it to maybe Texas, maybe. Then hopefully her generations after her will make it down to Mexico,” he said. “No single butterfly will actually make it’s way the entire trip.”
You can learn more about monarch butterflies at the Phelan Garden’s Facebook page