Monarch butterfly habitat at the farm.
A week in recent memory there was a disheartening NY Times article that illuminated this year’s decline in Monarch butterfly species population. Building Monarch butterfly habitat at the farm seemed like a nice idea. Our local organic farmer friend agreed to collaborate on building some Monarch butterfly habitat at the farm.
It occurred to us it’d be lovely to begin spring with a wildflower seed sowing project. Earlier this winter, we were invited to participate in seed sowing at my organic farmer friend’s home in Saratoga. After that wildflower seed sowing event, we still had some Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) leftover. Swamp Milkweed is quintessential Monarch butterfly host plant. Asclepias is the only family of plants that Monarch caterpillars can eat. Swamp Milkweed has pretty pink flowers and can tolerate very wet conditions. We walked around the farm until we reached a riverbank that sometimes floods from beaver activity. We decided to create some Monarch butterfly habitat at the farm, by the river.
We divided the seeds and scattered them up and down the riverbank. We won’t have a 100% germination rate for this Milkweed. But if any of it is successful, this will easily become one more Monarch butterfly waystation. Everything the butterflies need to make their living is right onsite. Providing safe space for Monarchs is relatively simple. Planting Milkweed in an open and organic space is the backbone of their habitat.
Many times, when the Monarch butterflies return from their annual migration in Mexico, they find development where they had lived and procreated the year before. Often a new big chain store is in place of the Monarch habitat. There is a new responsibility that falls on American property owners and gardeners to provide habitat for our native wildlife. Our nation has been rapidly leaving butterflies, birds, mammals and insects with no place to go. Adding Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) or Orange Butterflyweed (A. Tuberosa) to gardens for Monarch butterflies is a fantastic idea.