It’s readily known that the monarch butterfly population has been on the decline for years. Habitat destruction, chemicals, global warming conditions… these are just a few of the reasons behind the decimation of this migratory marvel. Just yesterday, I spoke to some folks at the Olmsted Parks Conservancy about throwing a festival dedicated to raising funds and awareness of the plight of pollinators – yes, butterflies are pollinators too (more on the festival below). Just as important as raising funds to create more natural habitats, is the need to spread awareness… we can reverse the damage that we have inflicted upon the pollinators.
While I was heading over to the Conservancy, a friend of mine living out west was in the midst of sending me an email. In the email was a link to an article on TreeHugger.com. The crux of the article was about a master gardener in Las Vegas, who was doing her part to help the migrating monarchs. Over the course of the last five years, Anne Marie Lardeau has been planting rush milkweed in test gardens, to offer sustenance to the monarchs during their incredible journey (see 2018 migration map). The funny thing is, when she first began her mission, there was some confusion and doubt whether the monarchs were even passing through town.
Fast forward five years and it’s a completely different story. By planting the rush milkweed, and then other types of milkweed, Lardeau’s team has managed to attract the monarch. Not only have the monarchs put Las Vegas on their migration map (five butterfly habitats at the test gardens), for the first time it has been documented that they are actually laying eggs during their stay.
Currently, the team is experimenting with various types of milkweed in order to be most efficient when it comes to attracting the monarch. Next, they plan on taking that milkweed and disseminating to gardeners (and schools) all throughout Las Vegas. They are currently handing out free seed packets to those who will help to plant them and care for them.
If Las Vegas, a city that was not even known for having monarchs, can go so far as to create a habitat and attract the struggling butterflies, then Buffalo can certainly step up its own conservation efforts. There was a time when monarchs ran rampant around here. These days we might see a few flit through… which, to me, is so sad. But we can join the cause! Swamp milkweed is not only an incredible monarch magnet, it’s also quite beautiful. It can be purchased at Urban Roots on the city’s West Side (see here).
Next up, hopefully if all goes well, we will be making an announcement about a pollinator festival this summer that would take place at The Terrace at Delaware Park. If you have any ideas for the festival, or you want to get involved with the effort, feel free to send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).