Former First Lady Doesn’t Beat Around the Bush About Butterflies

AUSTIN, Texas — Former first lady, Laura Bush, visited the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Wednesday.

While she spent some time out in the gardens, Mrs. Bush also rallied for a cause close to her heart.

Springtime in the Lone Star State means flowers, bees and butterflies.

But here in Texas, there’s something fading from the picture.

“Sadly, over the past decade, there’s been an estimated 80-percent decline in the monarch’s eastern population,” said Mrs. Bush.

She spoke before hundreds of environmentalists at the South-Central Monarch Symposium about the plight of the monarch butterfly.

“As everyone here knows, the monarch butterfly is the most iconic and beloved insect in the world,” she said. “It’s been named the state insect of Texas.”

“In my estimation, we’re at the chrysalis phase,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Benjamin Tuggle. “We’re not quite the butterfly, we’re recognizing the challenges.”

Texas is the first state monarch butterflies pass through whenever they migrate to the U.S. That’s why environmentalists stress the importance of landowners, businesses and residents doing their part, like planting milkweed in their gardens.

“You have a role to play on how it is that you can contribute to the overall conservation mission that we set upon ourselves,” said Tuggle.

Now that these butterflies have set off on their journey north, the best we can do is help their numbers take flight.

“The beautiful monarch butterfly is a symbol of hope that connects people and cultures all the way from Mexico to Canada. It unites us as a conservation community and anyone who eats food,” Bush joked.

Despite its name, milkweed is not considered an invasive plant. Environmentalists hope to add almost 2 billion milkweed stems nationwide by 2020.