By Hallie Kutch, Parks & Recreation Marketing Assistant
The annual migration of monarch butterflies is underway!
Be on the lookout in the next few weeks for the iconic black and orange butterflies as they pass through the Brazos Valley on their way from Canada to the mountains of Central Mexico.
The monarchs will be searching for milkweed to refuel and reproduce on their journey to Mexico. Milkweed is the only plant the caterpillar eats and provides a place for the butterfly to lay its eggs. Unfortunately, changes in agricultural practices have led to a rapid decline in milkweed and the vital monarch habitat it furnishes.
The best way to keep these winged travelers soaring is to rebuild their habitat by planting milkweed. A concerned group of community partners has joined to form Butterflies in the Brazos to help restore and conserve the declining monarch population with butterfly gardens and waystations in community and neighborhood parks.
Butterflies in the Brazos Planting Day
You can join the effort by participating in Butterflies in the Brazos Planting Day on Sunday at 3 p.m. at Bee Creek Park. The group will be building a demonstration garden by planting milkweed and other nectar plants along the park trail. America’s Country Store has donated more than 100 seed packets to get the project started.
If you want to help, bring gloves, a gardening trowel, and an empty gallon milk jug or small bucket for watering the plants. Send an email to email@example.com to sign up.
Bee Creek Park is the first of many parks that will soon have butterfly gardens built by this group, but we encourage other volunteer groups, churches, and student organizations to build gardens in our parks as well.
You can build your butterfly garden by planting milkweed and other nectar plants or registering to start a garden in your nearby neighborhood or community park. The Bee Creek Park demonstration garden may provide ideas for your waystation.
Milkweed seeds planted now will not bloom in time for the fall migration, but the plants will be mature by the time the monarchs head back north in the spring. Early spring is another great time to plant the seeds.
Ron Schaefer, our cemetery sexton, has been planting milkweed plants in our parks this fall and we already have seen a dozen of caterpillars and butterflies at Central Park. Jane Cohen of the A&M Garden Club says monarch butterflies also need ample nectar sources and suggests planting a mix of native plants, late-season bloomers, continuous-blooming perennials, and annuals in fall gardens.
Stop by our Stephen C. Beachy Central Park Office at 1000 Krenek Tap Rd. on weekdays from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. to receive two free milkweed seed packets per household. Seed packets cover more than 20 square feet. We also invite you to share your milkweed garden through social media by using the hashtag #CSTXPARKS.
For more information, go to cstx.gov/monarchs, call 979.764.3486 or drop by the Central Park office.
Hallie Kutch is in her first year as a recreation assistant in the Parks & Recreation Department after graduating from Texas A&M in December with a degree in sports management and a minor in tourism research management. She has previously worked with the Dallas Sidekicks professional soccer team and Texas Team Junior Golf. Originally from White Oak, Hallie also attended Kilgore College and was a member of the famed Kilgore Rangerettes dance team.
Monarch Photo: pat138241/123RF Stock Photo
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