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The Problem

20 years ago, scientists warned that Monarch butterfly populations in North America were plummeting. Today, the population of Eastern Monarchs has declined by 80% while Western Monarchs have dwindled to 0.01% of their historic populations.


Scientists have also been raising the alarm about the decline of bee populations. Of the 4,000 bee species that are native to North America, 1 in 4 are at risk of extinction while thousands of species are already presumed to be extinct.

Pollinator and wildlife population declines are not unique to North America but represent a global crisis. We are currently living in the age of Anthropocene -- a geologic era characterized by environmental and atmospheric change caused by human activity. Scientists consider the most alarming aspect of the Anthropocene to be the drastic loss of biodiversity – the variety and abundance of all species on Earth.


Biodiversity is essential to ecosystem function as well as the ability for species to adapt to climate change. However, we are also witnessing the Earth’s sixth mass extinction event. Right now, species extinctions are occurring 1,000 times greater than any other extinction event in the geologic record.

In September of 2019, a study published in Science confirmed that bird populations across North America have declined by an average of 30% – amounting to 3 billion less birds in our skies compared to just 50 years ago. Since it is difficult to grasp such a large number, imagine the human population of China and India - combined.

A year after this report was published, there were accounts of migratory songbirds falling out of the sky across the southwest. Researchers who collected and performed autopsies on the birds determined that 80% had died of starvation mid-flight. Since migratory birds need to stop and refuel every few days, the incident signaled an absence of food sources along their flight path.

The Solution

The plants and insects of New England have co-evolved together over millions of years. Their mutual survival is intertwined and interdependent. Plants and insects are also essential to the ecosystems that support human health. Trees, shrubs, and perennial plants support us with life-giving oxygen, storm buffering, flood control, water purification, climate regulation, and carbon sequestration.

The butterflies and moths that native plants attract serve as pollinators while their  caterpillars are a food source for wildlife. As birds and mammals feed on insects that collect on native plants, they perform pollination and natural pest control. Birds and mammals assist in seed dispersal and help establish forests.


Native plants and trees attract hundreds of species including native bumble bees and solitary bees that are critical to the pollination of wild plants as well as the agricultural crops that sustain human lives. Since insects are the foundation of all food chains, their disappearance negatively impacts all species.

In order to support the ecosystems that safeguard human health, we need to invite insects into our yards and gardens. In order to attract more insects, we simply increase the number of native plants in the landscape. Native plants are hardy, adapted to our local climate, and often drought tolerant. 

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