Photo: Yosemite National Park
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The Giants aren’t the only ones wearing orange and black that are enjoying a resurgence this summer.
Monarch butterflies — always at the top of everyone’s favorite butterfly list — have returned to Yosemite National Park as part of their annual migration, park rangers said in a Facebook post. As the weather cools, they’ll head to Santa Cruz and San Diego to spend the winter.
Unfortunately, you might not see huge swarms of them at the park. Western Monarch populations are down 86 percent from last year.
That’s one reason rangers remind visitors to stay on designated paths and boardwalks. The park is working to restore monarch and other pollinator habitat with the help of volunteers and partners like the Youth Conservation Corps, and it’s critical that their meadows not be disturbed.
Monarchs rely on flowering plants and milkweed on their migration route to survive. Milkweed is especially important, because monarchs will not lay their eggs on any other plant.
The insect’s caterpillars feed on milkweed leaves, which contain toxic compounds but do not harm the larvae. Instead, the compounds serve as a defense mechanism — they make the caterpillars and butterflies taste terrible. A bird that eats a monarch will throw up butterfly bits all over its feathers.
Eventually word gets around, and the birds learn to avoid orange and black.
If you’d like to help the monarchs and you live in their migratory corridor, Yosemite rangers recommended planting milkweed or other flowering native plants in your backyard. The butterflies need both to fuel their flight to their winter homes.
Mike Moffitt is an SFGATE Digital Reporter. Email: email@example.com. Twitter: @Mike_at_SFGate.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Endangered-monarch-butterflies-return-to-Yosemite-14299006.php.