San Diego, CA–The monarch butterfly is a recognizable wildlife icon in Southern California and plays an important part in the local ecosystem as a pollinator of native plants.
On Friday at the San Diego Zoo’s native pollinator garden, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria presented a proclamation declaring May 1, 2021 Monarch Day in the city of San Diego to Paul Baribault, President and Chief Executive Officer of San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, and Paige Howorth, the McKinney Family Director of Invertebrate Care and Conservation.
Earlier this year, the City of San Diego signed the Mayoral Monarch Pledge, a campaign managed by the National Wildlife Federation. The goal of the campaign is to have cities across the United States commit to creating essential habitat for monarch butterflies and other pollinators, and to educate residents about how they can make a difference at home and in their community.
San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance has provided support for the annual monarch population count and has worked to raise awareness of the butterflies’ significant population decrease. The most recent survey of western monarchs showed that the population has declined more than 99 percent since a population estimate of 4.5 million in the 1980s, due in large part to widespread loss of habitat and native milkweed.
Monarch butterflies are dependent on native milkweed—they lay their eggs on the plant, so that hatching caterpillars can eat the leaves. Increased use of herbicides and insecticides has significantly reduced the amount of monarch-safe milkweed and nectar plants available and has contributed to the decline in their population.