Port Becomes A Butterfly Sanctuary

The magical monarch phenomenon is endangered, and these creatures need our help!

Monarch migration is one of the wonders of the animal kingdom. These fragile creatures travel thousands of miles, and the full migration cycle from Mexico to New England and back takes four whole generations, with each generation travelling to areas they have never seen before. Monarch butterflies typically begin their journey north from inland Mexico in late February to early March. They start laying eggs on milkweeds in the southern United States between mid-March and the beginning of May. We can expect Monarchs to begin to arrive in New York by June. Across their migratory range, Monarch butterflies are threatened by loss of milkweed and habitat, climate change, and the use of harmful pesticides.

Monarch butterflies are an emblematic flagship species heralding the need to protect biodiversity. Creating habitat for monarch butterflies has an umbrella effects that supports the diversity of many small animals that co-inhabit our gardens. By releasing monarch butterflies into the world to join their migration and by planting seeds, participants will be supporting the growth and health of this imperiled species, pollinators, and Port Washington’s biodiversity.

Endeavors in conservation to help protect declining monarch populations can start in Port residents’ backyards by planting or placing milkweed and nectar plants in a pot. Monarch habitats are sites containing a variety of nectar-producing plants, especially milkweed, a family of plants that is the sole host for Monarch butterfly eggs and caterpillars. Like oases, these habitats serve as connections or steppingstones linking populations of Monarch butterflies and a diversity of wildlife over the course of their migratory cycles. Monarch habitats support many species of butterflies and moths, bees, dragonflies, migratory and breeding birds, native plants, and many other organisms.

The Center for Biological Diversity recently put forth a petition to Protect the Monarch Butterfly Under the Endangered Species Act. The petition includes our most up-to-date knowledge about the natural history, population, distribution, threats, and the critical habitat needed to protect this creature. The report is based largely upon data, maps, and figures provided by citizen science efforts such as Journey North, the Monarch Larval Monitoring Project, Monarch Alert, Monarchs in the Classroom, The Monarch Teacher Network and Monarch Watch. The petition is a great resource for the study of the Monarch butterfly and a link is provided here.