Beautiful Monarch butterflies are often called the “king of butterflies” because of their large wingspan and vibrant colors. The species is also known for their remarkable 2,000 mile journey from North America to a few specific mountain tops in Central Mexico. The migration, which takes three to four generations of butterflies to complete is key to their survival, but a number of natural and man-made disasters have put it on the endangered list. Milkweed for Monarchs Butterfly Garden is a new program to save these amazing creatures.
Launched by wildlife photographers and animal advocates Leo and Dorothy Keeler, Milkweed for Monarchs Butterfly Garden hopes to establish gardens where the butterflies can once again flourish. Their butterfly garden and Way Station will provide the Monarchs with milkweed plants for them to lay their eggs, host plants to support young caterpillars and nectar plants for adults to eat.
The first Way Station will be planted near the Keeler’s home in Montana. The couple is well-known for their advocacy for animals in Alaska where they helped protect eagles, wolves and the McNeil River bears in Denali National Park.
Monarch butterflies have lost 50 to 80 percent of their population during the past decade due to three massive storms and the industrialization of their habitat with shopping centers and malls. In addition, new farms filled with genetically altered corn and soy beans were sprayed with an herbicide that killed one hundred (100) million acres of the milkweed plants where the butterflies lay their eggs.
The Milkweed for Monarchs Butterfly Garden project has several steps. First it will plant much needed milkweed plants in the Keeler’s existing bio0hedge that has become home to local wildlife. Next the couple will breed Monarch butterflies that can utilize the garden until they are ready to be released for the migration.
The third part of the project will include teaching Montana teachers how to set up their own butterfly gardens and then move onto to garden clubs across the country. And finally the Keeler’s plan to have a traveling live butterfly exhibit which they will share and teach people at nearby Yellowstone National Park.
Click on Milkweed for Monarchs Butterfly Garden to see how you can get involved.
Photo Credit: LeoandDorothyKeeler