So much of the natural environment is at risk these days. The Earth is seeing the rapid reduction things from bees to glaciers and it often feels like nothing can be done. The entirety of the problem is too much for one person, one corporation, club, NFP, or government, but maybe if just one small part of the issues is tackled, an impact can be made.
Enter Monarch Watch, an organization that targets saving the majestic, mysterious, and once ubiquitous Monarch Butterfly.
Monarchs are migratory insects that travel from Mexico to Canada in a trip that can take 5 generations to complete. Once common, their numbers have declined dramatically due to storms in their wintering ground, herbicide use, and agricultural practices that remove milkweed–a critical plant in their lifecycle–from their habitat.
Milkweed is a species of ~200 genus of plants in the Asclepias family. And while the butterfly of the Monarch can eat from many different flowers, the caterpillar must eat milkweed. As such, milkweed is a the heart of any Monarch habitat and population growth initiative.
While Monarch Watch is a non-profit that works to conserve the Monarch Butterfly, a side benefit in helping also Monarchs benefits other pollinators such as bees, birds, and bats that are facing environmental decline. The organization’s web site has everything you need to know about the life, migration, population, and WAYS TO PERSONALLY HELP save the Monarch.
Big Branch Apiary is involved in this initiative. We are registered Monarch Waystation, #31399. There are currently over 35,000 Waystations and you can register your won garden, estate, farm or business landscaping as a Waystation if you meet the criteria. Find the latest world-wide Waystation location list here. As part of our involvement we grow lots of food-producing flowers including six varieties of milkweed:
- Asclepias curassavica, the variety most people are familiar with. this variety needs is loved by the caterpillars but as a North American non-native it has the potential to disrupt the migration of the butterflies and should be cut back completely in the winter.
2. Asclepias tuberosa, more of a shrubby milkweed.
3. Ascpeias variegata, more commonly called the Redwing milkweed. This is a shade perennial found in the forest understory.
4. Asclepias incarnata–we have a low-growing white variety at the Apiary.
5. Asclepias syriaca, or common milkweed.
Here at the Apiary we find that, in addition to the milkweed, seeding with zinnias and coriander will attract a lot of butterflies when planted along with native wildflowers.
Come visit if you get the chance, or register for your own Monarch Waystation and help do your part to save these majestic creatures.