I want you to imagine that you and I are driving to Mexico to spend the winter.
After a few hours on the road, we need to fill up the gas tank and we pull into a rest station for gas and a snack. Upon arrival we discover no gas at that station. Thinking we can make it a little further we continue on, only to find the next few gas stations do not have gas or have very little. The further south we go, the harder our trip gets as our tank gets closer to empty. The big question is, will we make it?
This is a question that we are asking about the monarch butterfly: Will they make it to Mexico to overwinter? Back in mid-September, we wrapped up our Daisy Marquis Jones Butterfly Beltway Project for the year with a series of monarch butterfly releases at gardens statewide, as well as here on Zoo grounds. The monarchs we released were just starting their impressive journey all the way to Mexico. Lasting more than two months, this journey requires a lot of energy, gained by drinking the nectar from flowers. Every garden along their migration route is like a gas station, where they rest and refuel on their journey. Essential butterfly habitat has been disappearing all over the country, including here in western New York, making it harder for the monarchs to migrate. This is one of the main reasons the Butterfly Beltway Project is so important. We restore habitat through the planting of butterfly gardens, or rest stops, for monarchs.
How can you help? You can reestablish butterfly habitat by planting a butterfly garden, or have the Zoo do it for you, every little bit helps! This program will plant gardens at a private residences, places of worship, businesses, senior centers and schools. Our area is a prime migratory route of the monarchs and even as recently as this week, Zoo staff have seen monarchs migrating through this area.
By making sure your garden has plenty of flowers that still blossom in October (such as aster, golden rod, joe pye weed, sedum and zinnias), you can easily help monarchs on the move.
Questions about butterflies or how to make a garden? Please feel free to contact me at email@example.com.
- Tim Fowler, Outreach Coordinator