Have you spotted the brilliant orange and black monarchs, among the most easily recognizable of the butterfly species, around your community? They migrate as far south as Mexico City, and as far north as Canada—that’s thousands of miles!
Monarchs can be spotted throughout the US and even right here in Champaign, but the population has declined nearly 90 percent over the past 20 years according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Much of this is attributed to the lack of plant life that support and nourish this magnificent creature.
We have joined the Monarch movement by planting butterfly gardens around the community. Bresnan Meeting Center and Springer Cultural Center, for example, have butterfly gardens planted with milkweed, lantanas, zinnias, dill, and more butterfly attracting and caterpillar feeding plants. Our Horticulture Team has planted many butterfly-friendly plants in the community through our ample Flower Islands. Parks like Heritage Park, Porter Park, and Scott Park also feature native prairie plants like Black-eyed Susans and alluring Cone Flowers that encourage butterflies to visit and linger on their migration journey. We’ve even salvaged milkweed plants (the only food source monarch caterpillars will consume) from the community that were being pulled from a garden. The nurtured plants were full of monarch caterpillars (pictures shown)! We can’t wait to see how they will develop.
Grand gestures and concentrated movements to save the monarchs are in full swing and we invite you to take part. One gardener planting a few flowers may not have a significant impact, but many gardeners planting a garden of flowering plants can make a real and positive difference.
Learn more about these incredible monarch butterflies and how you can help at our family-friendly, educational event this weekend at the Virginia Theatre. Enjoy a special screening of Flight of the Butterflies, talks from local experts, children’s activities, and a screening of Plight of the Monarch, a locally-made documentary.
Starting a butterfly garden is simple and attainable for anyone with some soil, sunshine, and outdoor access! You can learn more about the life cycle of monarch butterflies at the National Wildlife Foundation.