Posts tagged “monarch butterflies

Get ready for the October monarch migration

By Hallie Kutch, Parks & Recreation Marketing Assistant

After enduring the summer heat, fall is always a welcome relief in Texas. It’s also an ideal time to sow nectar plants for the monarch butterfly migration and to prepare your gardens for the spring.

Texas is an important stop in the journey since it’s situated between the butterflies’ main breeding grounds in the north and their wintering areas in the south. The monarchs funnel through the Lone Star State in both fall and spring.

Monarch Garden Tips

The butterflies are expected to pass through the Brazos Valley in early October, according to Jane Cohen, the A&M Garden Club’s butterfly chair. She recommends growing nectar-producing plants to benefit the monarchs. The blooming flowers provide a sweet liquid that provides energy for the insects as they travel.

Here are 14 nectar plants to consider for your garden:

  • Black-Eyes Susan
  • Zinnia
  • Plumbago
  • Cassis
  • Goldenrod
  • Pipe-Vine
  • Purple Mist
  • Passion Vine
  • Senna
  • Sunflower
  • Hollyhock
  • Purple coneflower
  • Lantana
  • Joe-Pye Weed

Cohen says it’s best to plant in locations with plenty of sunshine since adult butterflies typically prefer to feed in the sun.

Vibrant colors such as red, yellow, orange, pink and purple tend to attract adult butterflies the most, and they also are drawn to patches of the same plant or color of flowers. It’s a good idea to incorporate continuous-blooming annuals in islands of color, or clusters of nectar plants and is beneficial to include milkweed either nearby or mixed.

You should also be mindful of the flower’s orientation. It’s important that flower blossoms are flat-topped or clustered to make a platform for the butterfly to land and walk. Butterflies need nectar throughout the adult phase of their life span, so plant for a continuous bloom so that when one plant stops blooming, another begins.

More About Milkweed

Milkweed is the only plant the caterpillar eats and is where butterflies lay their eggs. That makes an abundance of milkweed vital, especially in the spring. Milkweed can be planted in early fall, but the seeds are best planted in November when it’s too warm for the ground to be frozen, but too cool for the seeds to sprout until spring.

Tropical milkweed is a primary monarch food source, but it should be cut back to the ground in late fall to encourage the butterflies to continue their journey to Mexico.

An excellent way to start your garden is to pick up two free Butterfly Retreat seed packets from our Central Park office at 1000 Krenek Tap Rd. Each pack covers more than 20 square feet and contains a wildflower mix that’s perfect for creating a butterfly habitat.

Educational Opportunities

  • Butterflies in the Brazos Community Meeting: Share your ideas and plans to promote monarch butterflies and other pollinator habitats on Wed., Sept. 27 from 9 a.m.-noon at the Brazos Center. The free gathering includes education about local groups and their efforts to increase awareness about butterfly preservation, native plants for butterflies, and other pollinators. We will also explore ways to involve residents and identify community partners for networking along with an overview of basic gardening tips. The program will feature speakers from the A&M Gardening Club, Texas Master Naturalist, Keep Brazos Beautiful, Native Plant Society, Master Gardeners, Monarch Gateway, the USDA/TAMU Future Scientist Program, and the College Station Parks & Recreation Department.
  • Landscaping and Plants for Butterflies: Ann Boehm of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Master Gardeners and Butterflies in the Brazos will give an overview on landscaping and plants for butterflies. The free class will be Oct. 14 at 11 a.m. at Producers Ag Center (1800 N. Texas Ave.) in Bryan. You don’t need to RSVP.

We also invite you to visit our community demonstration gardens that were created by local community organizations:

For more information, go to cstx.gov/monarchs.

 


About the Blogger

Hallie Kutch is in her third year as marketing staff assistant in the Parks & Recreation Department after graduating from Texas A&M in 2014 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.


 

Photo Copyright: xkardoc/123RF Stock Photo

 

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Butterflies in the Brazos Planting Day set for Sunday

By Hallie Kutch, Parks & Recreation Marketing Assistant

40725911 - closeup butterfly on flower (common tiger butterfly)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 amgc4u@gmail.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.

 


312d2ecAbout the Author

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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How you can help save the monarch butterfly

40725911 - closeup butterfly on flower (common tiger butterfly)

By Hallie Kutch, Parks & Recreation Marketing Assistant

The dazzling monarch butterfly weighs less than a dime but soars on wind currents for thousands of miles on a remarkable annual journey.

The monarch migrates to Mexico in the winter to avoid the cold of Canada, then returns in the warmer months. The incredible flight can be up to 3,000 miles and may take up to four generations.

The monarch’s brilliant orange, black, and white colors make it the most recognized of all butterflies. Once a common sight in the summer, its population declined by 90 percent from 1995 to 2014.

Last weekend, the Rio Brazos Audubon Society took part in the annual North American Butterfly Count at several area parks. During more than seven hours in the field, the group counted 201 butterflies from 30 species. Only two were monarchs.

Monarch factsThe primary culprit is the decline of the milkweed plant due to changes in agricultural practices. Although not a farmer’s favorite, milkweed is a vital source of the food for the monarch. The plant fuels their flight and provides a place for the next generation to begin its pilgrimage.

Thanks to concerted efforts of enthusiasts and government entities, the monarch is slowly regaining its reign, but its numbers are nowhere near the one billion that once fluttered across the United States.

Mayor’s monarch pledge

The National Wildlife Federation and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services initiated an effort to save the butterfly population by creating the Mayor’s Monarch Pledge. The campaign calls on government leaders to commit to specific actions in their communities to protect the threatened butterfly.

Texas A&M researcher and butterfly enthusiast Craig Wilson introduced the operation to College Station Mayor Nancy Berry and Bryan Mayor Jason Bienski, who signed the pledge in January.

To honor the promise, the City of College Station is creating a monarch-friendly demonstration garden at Lick Creek Park and a butterfly trail near the new Lick Creek Nature Center. In addition, mowing schedules have been altered to allow milkweed to grow, and milkweed and other plants that benefit pollinators are being placed in community and school gardens to educate and engage our citizens.

The College Station Parks & Recreation Department is collaborating with Keep Brazos Beautiful and the A&M Garden Club to help restore and conserve the declining population. More than 50 pounds of milkweed seed has been planted at Veterans Park & Athletic Complex, Richard Carter Park, Stephen C. Beachy Central Park, Memorial Cemetery, and the Aggie Field of Honor.

In 2009, Wilson collaborated with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to create People’s Garden, a small monarch garden across from Wolf Pen Creek Park that has become a registered waystation featuring milkweed and other nectar flowers.

How you can help

As Wilson said, “If you plant it, they will come.”

We encourage everyone with a bit of a spare garden space to plant native milkweed and other nectar-producing plants. Becoming part of this community effort will help one of the great wonders of nature continue and will give you a front row seat to watch the spectacular metamorphosis and migration.

Wilson will be part of a free community planning meeting on Friday, July 29 about developing habitat for monarchs and other pollinators. The meeting will be from 1:30-4:30 p.m. at the USDA Building (1001 Holleman Dr. East) and will feature representatives from a variety of community groups.

To register, send your name and phone number to amgc4u@gmail.com.

In the meantime, here are some tips for your garden:

  • Prime time for planting milkweed is early June and July.
  • Pick a spot with lots of sunshine.
  • Light soils are better than those with heavy clay.
  • Gardens need a combination of milkweed and nectar plants such as Black-Eyed Susans, Purple Coneflowers, and Joe-Pye Weed.
  • Make sure your garden is pesticide free.
  • Look for the monarch caterpillar in July, August, September, and October.

Are you ready to do your part? Stop by Stephen C. Beachy Central Park Office at 1000 Krenek Tap Rd. on weekdays between 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. to receive two free milkweed seed packets per household. For more information, call 979-764-3486.

We also invite you to share your milkweed garden through social media by using the hashtag #CSTXPARKS.

Plant milkweed, save the monarchs!

 


312d2ecAbout the Author

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

 

If you found value in this blog post, please share it with your social network and friends!