Planting for Monarchs By Kelly Rourke
Monarch Wings Across California (MWAC) is a new initiative of Pollinator Partnership (P2) modeled after the success of the Monarch Wings Across Ohio program, with initial funding from the Monarch Joint Venture and the Hillsborough Garden Club.
This program aims to establish monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) research and habitat sites throughout the state of California for the species lesser-studied western population. The goals of this project are to:
In fall of 2018, Russian River Vineyards (RRV), Forestville became the first habitat site established by MWAC. Over the course of 3 days, RRV and P2 staff planted a 1/5-acre area with over 1,000 plants from 17 different native plant species, all of which are of special value as nectar sources and larval food sources to monarch butterflies and other pollinators. Notable on the planting list were two species of milkweed, showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa) and narrow-leaved milkweed (A. fascicularis), which are important larval hosts for the monarch. As native species sourced from local nurseries, these plants will also help support the local seed bank and be easier to manage in periods of prolonged drought. RRV has taken an important first step in influencing the land management practices of northern California to account for monarchs and other pollinators. LEARN about Pollinator Projects - you can be be a part of saving these butterflies, bees, birds and other pollinators: monarchjointventure.org -support the western monarch migration through strategic habitat enhancements. Resources for teaching and learning pollinator.org -Download the FREE Monarch Plant List journeynorth.org -be part of tracking monarch migration, report sightings, etc.
Are Monarchs at Risk?
Each fall millions of monarch butterflies migrate to overwintering sites in Mexico and to a scattering of locations along the coast of California. In the spring monarchs return to breeding areas and the cycle starts again: a two-way migration that is one of the most spectacular on the planet. Yet, this migration appears to be declining. Researchers are working to determine the causes of this decline; some theories include:
How Can You Help Monarchs?
The monarch migration occurs twice every year. Nectar from flowers provides the fuel monarchs need to fly. If there are not any blooming plants to collect nectar from when the monarchs stops, they will not have any energy to continue. Planting monarch flowers that bloom when they will be passing will help the monarchs reach their destination. Creating more monarch habitat will help work to reverse their decline.
Key components of managed corridor habitat:
Creating Breeding Habitat for Monarchs
To reverse the breeding habitat loss in the U.S., the MJV promotes the inclusion of native milkweed and nectar plants in restoration efforts across the country ranging from small gardens to natural areas and corporate landscapes.