The Monarch Mission-Back by Popular Demand
We’re doing it again! Thanks to the great response to last year’s Monarch Mission, we’re again going to offer milkweed seedlings to our members and friends to help protect the Monarch butterfly population. Click here to order plants.
The beautiful orange and black Monarch butterflies are symbols of summertime in the Midwest. With their colorful wings and delicate bodies, they seem to float at the whim of the breezes. But these summer visitors are actually offspring of butterflies from thousands of miles away. The lovely Monarchs winter in large numbers in central Mexico and wing their way north to breed and dine in the summer months. Unfortunately, the number of Monarchs summering in the central US has been in serious decline over the past several years. There are a number of reasons experts cite for this problem, but the main culprit seems to be the loss of milkweed, a common but critical plant in the Monarch lifecycle. Monarchs lay their eggs on the underside of milkweed plants and the emerging Monarch caterpillars eat only milkweed to survive.
Milkweed plants used to be found in abundance along the roadsides and in fields all over the Midwest. In addition to milkweed for the caterpillar stage, adult butterflies need nectar from native plants to thrive. More recently, however, housing sprawl, weed trimming along roadsides and he use of chemical herbicides has greatly diminished the numbers of these native plants and the number of Monarchs that are able to survive this change has also greatly diminished, but we can all do something to help.
The Geneva Lake Conservancy will again offer locally grown milkweed seedlings for sale in early spring. We are encouraging members and friends to plant milkweed and other native flowering plants to create Monarch waystations in their own backyards. Plants will come in 2 ½ inch pots and will cost $5.00 each. Orders are due by April 1 and plants will be available for pick-up between May 15 and May 31. Please see opposite page or check online for an order form.
New to the sale is Liatris ligulistylus, commonly known as meadow blazing star, is another monarch favorite for its late-summer nectar. It is a tall plant (can grow up to 5 feet in rich soil) and produces long-lasting purple flowers on upright spikes. It is an easy-to-grow perennial, perfect for garden or meadow, and a magnet for butterflies and other pollinators. Three varieties of milkweed will be available:
* Common milkweed, with purplish white flowers, are the easiest and fastest to grow.
* Swamp or marsh milkweed have rose or pink flowers and prefer moist soils.
* Butterfly weed has clusters of orange flowers and likes dry and sunny locations.
All four plants are easy to grow and can be lovely additions to your gardens. This is a great project to do with children or grandchildren. And, seeds from these plants can be collected and sown in the fall to provide butterfly habitat for years to come. A big thank you goes to Intrinsic Perennial Gardens in Hebron, a Conservancy supporter, for helping us acquire good quality plants for our sale.
If you don’t have a place for milkweed, you can still make a donation and we will plant some for you at some of our conservancy properties. Proceeds from the sale of these plants will go to restoration of the 77-acre Hansen Preserve. For more information, please check our website or phone Kelley Happ at 847-404-3957 or call the Conservancy at 262-275-5700.