Photo: Thank you for giving us all butterflies

Thanks in part to milkweed planting, monarch butterfly numbers appear to be on the rise. (Credit: Robert Elliot)

For centuries, hundreds of millions of monarch butterflies crossed the continent each fall — some 5,000 kilometres, from Canada to Mexico — in one of the longest insect migrations on Earth.

Last spring, we told you how monarch populations had plummeted to record lows, due to a combination of severe weather events related to climate change and the widespread use of herbicides that have led to the virtual eradication of milkweed — the only plant where the butterflies lay their eggs and the main food for their newly hatched caterpillars.

Now, thanks to you and other butterfly lovers, the magnificent monarchs are making a comeback! This fall, Canadians spotted them in numbers that haven't been seen in years. Masses of migrating monarchs have turned up on weather service radar in shapes that look like butterflies! They even showed up early in Mexico.

This is a reason to celebrate!

How did David Suzuki Foundation supporters help bring the monarchs back?

Last spring, our #GotMilkweed campaign distributed some 4,000 milkweed seedlings to Greater Toronto Area residents who eagerly planted them in backyards, schoolyards, public parks and community gardens as part of our Homegrown National Park Project.

We also encouraged people to help researchers better understand butterfly behaviour by becoming citizen scientists.

And hundreds of you from across the country bought e-cards featuring watercolour depictions of various stages in the monarch lifecycle to show your butterfly support.

Want to keep the butterflies going?

You already helped feed and nourish the monarchs during the Canadian leg of this year's amazing, transcontinental migration. If we work together, they'll come back next year, and the next — and on into the future.

  • Plant milkweed — source local varieties or collect seeds yourself.
  • Ask your local garden centre to include milkweed and other pollinator-friendly plants in their spring inventory.
  • Send a butterfly e-card by going to davidsuzuki.org/donate/send-an-e-card/.

Congratulations. You made a big difference to a tiny creature.