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For anyone who likes Monarch Butterflies

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
I know it's out of season now, but there is a cool organization called Monarch Watch. Monarch Watch is an educational outreach program based at the University of Kansas.

It basically helps Monarch's by selling there host plant, Milkweed (what there caterpillars eat). That's the only type of plant they eat and in the U.S. it's usually found in surplus in unmowed fields, by farms, or along roadsides. Trouble is more and more areas the milkweed grow get cut down by people for houses or when they maintain property/land so less and less monarchs are living.

That is where Monarch Watch comes in.

They offcourse sell Milkweed plants/seeds for you to grow in your garden for the caterpillars to eat, and adult butterflies to drink nectar from. They also offer Monarch Waystations to buy, basically a waystation is an "official" habitat for the butterflies. You purchase a sign and set it up, you plant milkweed for them (comes with the kit), meaning if you have permission at a park or school to put one there, it cant be destroyed, so the monarchs at least have some plants to eat and lay eggs on in your area. The more of these set up in the U.S., the more monarchs we will have. A waystation can be set up in your garden too if you have room.

Monarchs travel to Mexico each Fall and overwinter there, and then return to the U.S. the following Spring to lay eggs. But while migrating they need to be strong and well fed, so the more milkweed, the more nectar for them. I think except for Alaska, they are at some point all over the U.S. and some parts of Canada.

Monarch Watch also has tagging kits, you tag the adult butterflies in Fall, and if they are found (dead or alive) the info is sent to University Of Kansas as an indication how the population is doing. Anyone can tag butterflies, all you do is purchase the kit. A lot are even found in Mexico! Pretty cool! I did some tagging years back and it was fun!

They also have rearing kits, so you can raise monarch caterpillars and release them as butterflies, another way to help.

Monarch populations have decreased since the 90's, and I think they are worth helping so check out there site how to help the butterflies.

http://monarchwatch.org/
post #2 of 13
Thanks for the link. When I was a kid, I remember seeing Monarchs by the thousands during their migration in the fall. Trees would be covered with them in the evening as they settled in for the night. Now, I hardly notice them. I see them, but not in the numbers I did as a child. It's sad to see these beautiful butterflies vanish. What made things worse, wasn't it a few years ago when there was a big freeze in Mexico, that killed a lot of them?
post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
Yes, the big freeze in Mexico did have a great impact, and now there is illegal logging in the forests of Mexico where the butterflies roost so that also isn't helping since the less Big trees left the more exposed the butterflies are to the elements on the smaller, more slender trees.
But here in the U.S. the main issue is less and less Milkweed since people see weed in it's name and think it's just an annoying weed, but that's just part of the name it's actually a very important plant for them. and more urban housing developments up, so less and less fields left, that is exactly the case in my area almost no natural land all roads and houses and buildings.

And to make matters worse, Monarch Watch is having funding issues, and they are the Monarchs best friend right now. The sad part is in 2008 they spent more on funding than they got back in donations, so they dont know if they can keep running the program by 2010 unless donations (and purchases) increase. That would be very sad since they're a great program and are trying to help our environment. Like I said when I tagged the monarchs and raised a few it was quite fun, I back this program up 100%. I hope more of you may try to help the monarchs and Monarch Watch.

Here is a post by them on the funding issues they are currently having in case you want to know more. http://monarchwatch.org/blog/2009/01...monarch-watch/
post #4 of 13
I can remember driving in Mexico in the 1970's and running into so many Monarchs that I had to pull over to the side of the highway. I found out they were just not going to thin out as I expected and had to get back on the highway and drive in what was worse than driving in the thickest fog in London. I finally drove through them only to meet them again on my way back. This area was just north of Monterrey as I recall.
post #5 of 13
Thanks for this link
post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 
Monarch Watch also have a Myspace account, so please add them to spread the word about monarch butterflies and to show some support. http://www.myspace.com/monarchwatch

And a Youtube account, there is only 1 video up now, but more should be added this spring/summer. http://youtube.com/monarchwatch
post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
Bumping this for Spring!
post #8 of 13
I saw my first northbound Monarch this week!
post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 
No monarchs here yet too early, but I just planted my Common Milkweed seeds so they'll have plants when they arrive.
post #10 of 13
I left about 8 acres of natural prairie at my old house and we had tons of milkweed growing there. We were always on the path of the migrating monarchs and there were years where we saw a lot of them. Not as much as years past, but still quite a few.

Now that I'm closer to the city, we don't have native prairie on the property, but our neighbor across the street left about 3 acres of unmowed land behind his house. I'm going to talk him into planting a bunch of milkweed there.

There's a Kansas Prairie State Park just a few miles from my house. I think I'll stop in there and talk to them. I bet that there is U of K stuff in there, since that center is all about restoring native lands to encourage wildlife.
post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Momofmany View Post
but our neighbor across the street left about 3 acres of unmowed land behind his house. I'm going to talk him into planting a bunch of milkweed there.

There's a Kansas Prairie State Park just a few miles from my house. I think I'll stop in there and talk to them. I bet that there is U of K stuff in there, since that center is all about restoring native lands to encourage wildlife.
Cool, that sounds awesome, and if it works out will be a big help!
post #12 of 13
The flowers of milkweed actually have an absolutely wonderful fragrance to them. I left it growing in my flower beds for that reason. I hope yours can grow to flower.
post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 
Funny you mention that, I thought they had a fragrance to them, I never knew until I smelt a flower
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