August 2014 Publisher Letter




Two.That’s exactly how many monarch butterflies I’ve seen this year—one passing through my yard and one flying around restored milkweed at Park Avenue Beach, along Highland Park’s lakefront. Gardeners across the area report similarly sobering news. Where are the butterflies this year and what has happened to the monarch, our Illinois state insect?

According to a recent report by the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC.org), migrating numbers of the orange and black beauties are down from 1 billion to a mere 33 million. Each year, monarchs migrate from their wintering grounds in the forests of Michoacán, Mexico, to their summer homes in the U.S. and Canada. Along the way, they need protective rest stops and areas rich with milkweed, the only place that they lay their eggs, and upon which the larvae feed.

Scientists attribute the decline to issues that include loss of food along the migration path, deforestation in Mexico, drought and the disappearance of milkweed habitat on Midwestern farms. The NRDC adds one more factor: rampant use of herbicides containing glyphosate, one of the main ingredients in Monsanto Roundup, to manage vegetation along U.S highways.

Herbicides, combined with mowing, have decimated milkweed. The NRDC is working with many states concerning their roadside management policies and plans to devise a strategy for nationwide planting of milkweed alongside roads to create a “butterfly highway”. We encourage you to check Switchboard.nrdc.org and search “monarch” for more information about how to get involved in this and other monarch-related programs.

Want to encourage monarchs and other pollinators in your yard? Plant native flowers! Yes, Asiatic lilies and exotic perennials are gorgeous to view, but they do nothing for birds, monarchs and other insects that are not attracted to these non-native plants. Monarch Watch (MonarchWatch.org) offers great how-to information for planting milkweed and setting up a butterfly garden. The Chicago Botanic Garden (ChicagoBotanic.org) has great ideas for planting pollinator strips and maintains a beautiful butterfly garden at their Glencoe location. A quick Google search will pull up tons of other local and national monarch resources.

Butterflies, especially monarchs, have come to symbolize transformation. What starts as a lowly, green-striped caterpillar enters a dull chrysalis, only to emerge and soar as an amazing, beautiful butterfly. And the butterfly on our cover this month symbolizes the transformative effect education has on our children. We hope you enjoy the special articles we present in this issue and that you are inspired to spread your own wings to fly a little higher. And while you’re at it, help the pollinators to keep flying, too.

Enjoy your August!

Jim Irwin and Peggy Malecki Natural Awakenings Magazine Chicago Publishers

Jim Irwin and Peggy Malecki

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More from Natural Awakenings

Letter from The Publisher

I believe that how we choose to approach these goals can make all the difference in what we perceive as success, what we give up on or what leaves us unfulfilled. The need to get things done and out of the way makes it easy to lose track of our journey and cause stress as we strive to get it right.

Letter from Publisher

As I reflected upon the year before I sat down to write my letter this month, it just seems that norms have changed in how many people choose to publicly interact with each other.

Letter from Publisher

I’m pausing to take it all in. Before sitting down to write you this month, I took a quick tour of the yard, which is transitioning to fall. I’d say it’s been an unusual weather year, yet each year now is even more out of the norm.

Letter from Publisher

April Thompson’s feature story, “Transformative Travel: Outer Adventures, Inner Journeys,” in this month’s issue, definitely touches a nerve for me.

Letter from Publisher

Time flies, and can you believe next month’s issue starts our eighth year of publishing?

Add your comment:
Edit ModuleShow Tags

See More »This Month

BG Organic Salon’s “Angels” Protect Clients from Toxins

BG Organic Salon, on Chicago’s northwest side, is offering new, all-organic spa services that include classic facials, youth firming facials and waxing.

We Only Have One Set of Eyes—Protect Them

When enjoying the sun, take these simple precautions to help protect eyes from damage.

Kidz N Moms Now Offers Private Therapeutic Yoga

Samana Jasper, a certified yoga instructor and physical therapist for more than 25 years, specializes in children and family yoga.

Nature as Nurturing

Pursuing a course of nature perks can be simple, elegant and personalized in a way meaningful to an adult, family or child. Here are some suggestions.

Fantastic Foods

There are two major players that assist our digestive power, and both are found in fermented foods: probiotics and enzymes.

Olga Saletsky Explains Homeopathy for Back-to-School Care

Homeopathy can alleviate the worry and fret a child is experiencing with the new grade level he or she must tackle.