Monarch butterflies are “the King” of their winged world and a flagship species for overall prairie health. Sadly, a 90% decline in the Eastern overwintering population was recorded between 1995 and 2014. While several factors may be contributing, the wide scale eradication of the “weeds” essential to the monarch lifecycle has been devastating. Adult monarchs may feed on a wide variety of nectar sources, but their caterpillar stage ONLY feeds on milkweed (Asclepias) species.
Berksdale Superintendent Reed Holly has been seeding milkweed and other native prairie plants for several years. Assistant Superintendent Wendy Barnes has been identifying and protecting increased areas of wildlife habitat in conjunction with her Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program efforts. Two years ago, a single adult and a single larva monarch were noted. This summer, patches of milkweed became well established and numerous adult butterflies have been spotted. This September, we are pleased to announce a veritable explosion of monarch caterpillars at various locations around Berksdale.
For more information, you may visit www.monarch-butterfly.com, www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/, or contact moc.a1656812892opvvb1656812892@bydn1656812892ew1656812892.
(Article contributed by Berksdale Assistant, Wendy Barnes)