Be a Butterfly Hero!
NEW CAMPAIGN INSPIRES KIDS AND FAMILIES TO SAVE THE ICONIC MONARCH BUTTERFLY
The majestic Monarch butterfly is in decline and needs your help. National Wildlife Federation (NWF), America’s largest wildlife conservation and education organization, is giving away 10,000 Butterfly Heroes Garden kits to help save the monarch butterfly.
NWF’s new Butterfly Hero Campaign, launched March 4, asks people to submit a photo of themselves making the international sign language sign of the butterfly on NWF’s Butterfly Heroes website, at: nwf.org/butterflyheroes. By taking the pledge, participants will be mailed a free kit (while supplies last) and if entered by May 15, are eligible for a chance to win a trip for four to Walt Disney World. Botanical Interests is supporting the campaign with a donation of native milkweed seeds.
“We can each be a part of saving the Monarch butterfly. The simple act of planting milkweed with your family provides Monarchs with a place to lay their eggs, and helps ensure this iconic species has a future,” said David Mizejewski, naturalist with the National Wildlife Federation.
Pollinators, a group which the monarch butterfly is a part of, are mostly responsible for all the food that we eat. While Monarchs are found across the United States — as recently as 1996 numbering some 1 billion — their numbers have declined by approximately 90 percent in recent years, a result of numerous threats, particularly loss of habitat due to agricultural practices, development and cropland conversion. Degradation of wintering habitat in Mexico and California has also had a negative impact on the species.
Monarch butterflies spend winter in Mexico or Central and Southern California, and then migrate north in spring into neighborhoods across the U.S. They need places to rest their wings, drink flower nectar, and lay their eggs on milkweed which their baby caterpillars eat. Monarchs are losing this habitat, and without it the Monarch cannot survive. NWF is asking that people across the country to plant milkweed to preserve the Monarch’s habitat. Learn more about NWF’s Monarch protection efforts at NWF.org/Monarchs and nwf.org/-pollinators.
NWF’s Garden for Wildlife program encourages responsible gardening that helps pollinators and other wildlife thrive. It encourages planting with native species like milkweed and discouraging chemical pesticide use. With nearly 200,000 locations and growing, NWF’s Certified Wildlife Habitats and Community wildlife Habitats recognize individuals, schools, groups and whole communities committed to providing habitat for wildlife, including pollinators. Each of the nearly 200,000 certified locations provides food, water, cover and places to raise young. This makes yards, schools, businesses, faith-based organizations, campuses, parks, farms and other community-based landscapes into wildlife sanctuaries.
The Butterfly Heroes Campaign is organized by NWF and is a part of a number of programs designed to inspire people to get outdoors, help wildlife, and become more aware of the nature in their neighborhood and community
Milkweed for Monarchs
Monarch caterpillars feed exclusively on the leaves of milkweed, the only host plant for this iconic butterfly species. As such, milkweed is critical for the survival of Monarchs. Without it, they cannot complete their life cycle and their populations decline. Indeed, eradication of milkweed both in agricultural areas as well as in urban and suburban landscapes is one of the primary reasons that Monarchs are in trouble today.
The good news is that planting milkweed is an easy way that each of us can make a difference for Monarchs. There are several dozen species of this wildflower native to North America, so no matter where you live, there is at least one milkweed species naturally found in your area.
Planting local milkweed species is always best. You can collect your own seed or purchase seed or plants to add to your garden, or any landscape in your community. Three species have particularly wide ranges and are good choices in most regions: common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), swamp milkweed (A. incarnata), and butterflyweed (A. tuberosa). The latter two are highly ornamental and widely available via the nursery trade.
Texas is in the South Central Region for milkweed species. Those native to the state are Green Antelopehorn milkweed (Asclepias viridis); Antelopehorns milkweed (Asclepias asperula) and Zizotes milkweed, (Asclepias oenotheroides).
Learn more about NWF’s Monarch protection at: NWF.org/Monarchs and nwf.org/pollinators. For more NWF news, visit: nwf.org/news.
Be a Butterfly Hero!