LSJ Opinion

Butterflies are more than beautiful, they’re necessary — and need your help

A butterfly feeds on flowers on Tuesday, July 21, 2015, at  Ewing & Muriel Kuaffman Memorial Garden in Kansas City.
A butterfly feeds on flowers on Tuesday, July 21, 2015, at Ewing & Muriel Kuaffman Memorial Garden in Kansas City.

A few years ago we learned that birds needed our help then there was alarming news that bees are dying in frightening numbers.

Many people became conscious of the chemicals, environmental issues and predators that threaten the birds and the bees, which are so critical for the pollination of food crops.

Butterflies, another important pollinator, are also threatened due to loss of habitat, climate change and herbicide use.

A recent study determined that there are 16 million fewer monarchs than just a year ago. This study blamed the growing use of a popular herbicide that kills the milkweed monarchs need in order to survive.

In addition to bringing beauty into our lives, butterflies are also critical to the reproduction of certain crops. In fact, birds, bees and butterflies together pollinate a large portion of our crops — and 80 percent of the world’s food crops require the help of animal pollinators.

The human race depends on them.

Lee’s Summit was recently declared a “Monarch City,” and several projects have resulted from a conscious effort to help monarchs and other butterflies.

The Lee’s Summit Beautification Commission is encouraging homeowners to plant native plants that will attract various butterflies. It also will offer a new category for entries in the annual Landscape Contest.

The Lee‘s Summit Garden Club has committed to plant a butterfly garden at Lee’s Summit Social Services, while milkweed and other butterfly-attracting plants will be added to the garden at 4th and Southwest Main streets.

St. Anne’s Church will also modify their Adopt-A-Spot with monarchs in mind. Can you get involved, too?

Monarch butterflies cannot exist without milkweed for their larvae, and there are other specific plants that attract and nurture other kinds of butterflies.

The Beautification Commission suggests that families make a project of researching the situation, limiting herbicide use, and providing the plants that will help beautiful butterflies survive and thrive.

And don’t forget to enter your butterfly garden in the annual Landscape Contest this spring!

Carol Rothwell serves on the Lee’s Summit Beautification Commission and Tree Board. She is a retired telecommunications executive who enjoys gardening, music, travel and sports.