Typically, when I’m fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, I spend my time scanning the water for schools of fish. This year was a bit different. As I waded out into the surf, I saw the birds and fish and a new sight, Monarch butterflies flying over the water. The migratory pattern for these amazing creatures follows the coastline of the Gulf of Mexico, and some even cross the expanse of the Gulf waters to reach their winter destination: the Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico. At times I feel quite small, standing out in the water, chest deep: it’s a humbling experience. But to see those tiny creatures, so delicate and light, drifting over the water on such a perilous journey was inspiring.
The Monarchs would not make it to the Florida coastline if we didn’t provide them with the habitat they require in our Midwest gardens. The work you did this year: adding more Asclepias, providing flowers that bloom in the late summer and into the fall, and eliminating the use of chemicals in the landscape all helped to ensure the survival of the Monarch population. We have a long way to go to bring their population back up, but when you take a step back, what is required of us as gardeners is really quite simple. We get to add more flowering plants to our landscape. Who doesn’t like that? We can use water tolerant plants, another plus. We put the chemicals aside which is healthier for us and for nature. What we put into the protection of Monarchs is minimal, but the rewards are great: a gorgeous garden, and the opportunity see Monarchs flying along the Gulf of Mexico.