When it was announced last week that the Town would be engaged in mosquito spraying, a citizen commented via email to the Mirror that the timing of the spraying event coincides with the migration of the monarch butterflies, which pass through our area this time of year on their way to Mexico.
Monarchs are native to the Americas dating back to over 2 million years ago.
It is considered one of the most successful species not just due to its intricate migration patterns, but also because it has developed adaptations to ensure its survival over time.
Insects travel to flowering plants, drinking nectar, and transporting pollen. This results in a pollination service that is responsible for 1/3 of the world’s food source.
Due to a loss of habitat, the eastern Monarch population has declined by 90%. Other pollinators are experiencing a decline as well. Bees, which pollinate one-third of the world’s food crops, have declined 50% in recent decades. However, these alarming declines have sparked conservation programs across the nation to take action. Efforts to protect pollinators and restore habitat have been rewarded with a steady increase in monarch populations over the last few years.
This is why when and how we approach mosquito control is crucial.
A reader submitted to the Mirror an incident at Kent Island, MD, two years ago, where hundreds of dead monarchs were found on the ground, one week after the town sprayed for mosquitoes. You can do a Google search and read the article and see the photos. It was almost exactly 2 years ago when monarchs are starting their migration south to Mexico.
From a reader, “We painted our home Flyway blue, as a salute to the importance of the Eastern Shore as a migratory route for so many species, including monarch butterflies. Two of our neighbors shared that several years ago while kayaking on the seaside, they saw hundreds of monarchs on one of the barrier islands.
Yesterday, I found 2 monarch caterpillars in our butterfly garden. These represent the last generation for this year and will be the ones to migrate to Mexico. At that point, the Town still planned to spray tonight, so I contacted Kiptopeke, knowing they have a butterfly garden there and asked if I could bring the two caterpillars there. They were more than happy to help! It also brought up the question as to why the Town would be spraying when the monarch migration should reach us in the next week or so.”
Granted, some type of mosquito control needs to be investigated before next summer. Hopefully, we can find a balance between pest control so that we can enjoy places like Central Park and the concert series, yet do no harm to important migratory species such as the Monarch butterfly.