For those of you who are avid butterfly gardeners and/or interested in helping restore the declining Monarch butterfly population, there is a local effort that you in which you can participate and help out.
Milkweed Tuesday at St Marks National Wildlife Refuge is a program that sprang up in response to the federal initiative to “Save the Monarch!”(URL:http://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/). St. Marks NWR ranger Scott Davis has developed a long term plan to support the Monarch butterfly in the Bed Bend of Florida by sourcing local ecotypes of milkweed species to provide an ongoing viable seed source for the refuge, as well as distributing as many seedlings as possible to the public. More milkweeds will lead to more Monarchs since declining milkweed populations is one of the main problems with the Monarch butterfly number.
They currently have five different plant beds built and planted with five different milkweed species native to our region: butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa), sandhill milkweed (Asclepias humistrata), whorled milkweed (Asclepias verticillata), velvetleaf milkweed (Asclepias tomentosa), and aquatic milkweed (Asclepias perennis). Their hope is to a growing number of seedlings for eventual public distribution as well as to local schools.
To find out more about this effort, go to their Facebook page. It’s also an easy way contact them. Use a web search engine such as Google and type in “milkweed Tuesday.” The first search item that will come up should be the group’s Facebook page with contact information. Or send an e-mail to Kara Driscoll at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask to be included on their e-mails.
National Strategy to Promote Pollinator Health Released
The Pollinator Health Task Force released its national strategy to promote the health of honey bees and other pollinators, which includes butterflies, this past Tuesday (May 19, 2015). A copy of the strategy can be accessed and downloaded at the URL:
One of the overarching goals is to increase the eastern population of the Monarch butterfly to 225 million occupying an overwintering area of 15 acres (6 hectares) in Mexico. This past winter, the Monarch butterfly occupied an estimated area of less than 3 acres.
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