Milkweed for Monarchs

Over 30 children and their parents were entranced by stories about the beautiful Monarch Butterfly and the key to its survival at a special vacation program sponsored by The Rye Free Reading Room and organized by the Conservation Committee of The Rye Garden Club.

Published March 22, 2015 7:43 PM
3 min read

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Monarch-thOver 30 children and their parents were entranced by stories about the beautiful Monarch Butterfly and the key to its survival at a special vacation program sponsored by The Rye Free Reading Room and organized by the Conservation Committee of The Rye Garden Club.

Monarch1By Holly Kennedy and the Conservation Committee of the Rye Garden Club

 

Over 30 children and their parents were entranced by stories about the beautiful Monarch Butterfly and the key to its survival at a special vacation program sponsored by The Rye Free Reading Room and organized by the Conservation Committee of The Rye Garden Club.

Children ages 3 through 14 participated in an hour-long workshop and took home their own milkweed plant to nurture through the winter. In June, they will return to plant their milkweed in the garden outside the library’s Children’s Room, establishing a small Monarch Butterfly garden.

“Our Monarch Butterfly Workshop is designed to educate young people about the important role they can play in conservation and helping these amazing creatures survive,” said Debbie Hutchins, Chair of the RGC Conservation Committee.

“Monarch Butterflies are not only beautiful, but they play an important role in the food chain,” Hutchins said. “Like bees, moths, hummingbirds, and other butterflies, the Monarchs are pollinators, which means they move pollen from one plant to another, fertilizing the plant and allowing it to make fruit and/or seeds, which is critical because over 80% of the foods we eat require pollination,” she explained.

Students learned about the migration of the Monarch Butterfly. Most Monarchs winter in Oyamel, Mexico, then make their way north in spring.

 

Monarch2Along the migration north, Monarch Butterflies only lay eggs on milkweed plants and die not long after. Those monarch caterpillars emerge, eating only milkweed, then make their transformation into butterflies and fly further north. In one season, three generations of butterflies are born along this migration route.

The final generation of the summer is the Super Monarch, which is larger and lives six to nine months. They emerge from cocoons in late summer and then have to travel thousands of miles south along the eastern seaboard and back to Mexico for the winter.

Lisa Fallon, a member of the Conservation Committee, explained to the assembled group that unlike the caterpillar that eats lots of different kinds of foods in Eric Carle’s “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” Monarch Butterfly caterpillars only eat the milkweed plant. Fallon told the group that milkweed is rapidly disappearing due to human activities such as mowing, changes in farming methods, use of certain herbicides, and development of open spaces. This has resulted in an alarming loss of habitat and a 90% decline in the Monarch Butterfly population, from tens of millions to only several million today. She noted that restoring monarch butterfly habitat is something we can all do by planting milkweed in our gardens.

“We were delighted to partner with The Rye Free Reading Room to bring this program to the public,” said RGC President Sarah Barringer. “Our Monarch Butterfly program is part of the club’s ongoing outreach workshops to bring lessons about conservation and preserving habit to schools and student groups in the local community.”

 

 

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