Butterfly program aims to educate and conserve.
By Chip Taylor, Lawrence, Kansas
Every year, I get to watch a phenomenon. I'm the director of Monarch Watch, a program through the University of Kansas developed for the education and conservation of monarchs in North America.
I'm an entomology professor at the university, and I created this program because we are losing 6,000 acres of viable habitat every day. This loss will have a negative affect on all aspects of wildlife. Thus, Monarch Watch was born in 1992.
Through this program, we reach thousands of students and adults each year and educate them on monarch migration, tagging, milkweed favorites and more. Three years ago, we established the Monarch Waystation program in which participants can establish a monarch habitat and get it certified in their backyard, school, nature center or other location.
So far, we've certified more than 2,000 waystations, but we have a long way to go. As monarchs move across the continent, they need to have islands of resources where they can stop and refuel. This is why it's important to establish as many waystations as possible.
It doesn't take much to create a great habitat for monarchs right in your own backyard. If you garden, there's a good chance that you already have a great monarch habitat. If that's the case, visit our Web site. and learn how you can join the ranks of certified yards around the country.
Donna and Randal Watkins did just that. They've been gardening for wildlife for nearly 20 years. They know the basics of providing food, water and shelter for birds, and a couple of years ago, they decided to do the same for butterflies.
"Butterflies are a magical type of insect with their four stages of metamorphosis," Donna says. "We already had the elements of a great butterfly habitat in our yard, so we added some native milkweed and yarrow plants. Then we got certified as a Monarch Waystation through Monarch Watch."
Donna knows monarch habitats are dwindling and encourages other home owners to grow milkweed and other nectar plants in their yard. She says the more we can do, the longer the species will be around for everyone to enjoy.
"To experience the beauty of a butterfly as it feeds on a flower makes me realize that it's the little things we do in life that can have the most profound effect on all things that cross our paths," Donna says. "Even if it's only for a few moments. We can make a difference."
Another way to get involved is to look for monarch festivals, tagging events and more in your area. To help get you started, a few select ones are listed below.
Monarchs in Your Area
Want to find a local monarch festival or tagging event in your area? Here are a select few of the many going on this year. Check with your local butterfly organization to find one close to you.
- Butterfly Room—Monarch Tagging Event
- Jamestown Audubon Nature Center
- Jamestown, New York
- August 30
- Monarchs and Migrants Weekend
- Presqu'ile Provincial Park
- Brighton, Ontario
- August 30-31
- Monarch Day XXIII
- Blendon Woods Metro Park
- Westerville, Ohio
- September 13
- Monarch Watch
- Monarch Open House & Tagging
- University of Kansas
- Lawrence, Kansas
- September 13 and 20
- Monarch Tagging
- Western North Carolina Nature Center
- Asheville, North Carolina
- September 24-October 3
- Southwest Monarch
- Study Tagging
- Various locations in Arizona
- August through November
- Monarch Hike and Tagging
- Ft. Worth Botanic Garden
- Fort Worth, Texas
- October 11