A huge thank you to VDOT and Dominion Power for jumping in to Bringing Back the Monarchs, Keeping the Magic Alive with us! Having these two powerhouse organizations as part of the solution is a huge, positive step and we are grateful for their commitment and engagement!
In June we had our first projects with Dominion Power with plantings at the W&OD Trail. They have been busy in others areas of Virginia too planting waystations and spreading the word about the plight of the Monarch. Here’s one they did in Roanoake:
Then as fall rolled around, Loudoun Wildlife, Dominion and VDOT teamed up!
We had a great project on October 29th and are looking forward to wonderful partnerships ahead….Medians for Monarchs anyone? The milkweed and nectar plants are already there along stretches of roadways so this is a no-cost solution – we just need to shift the mowing schedule – could even save $$$ — other ideas are percolating too!
VDOT put together a great video from the planting event on October 29th - you can see it here:
And their press report is here — please let VDOTand Dominion Power know how much you appreciate this effort!
If you love Monarch butterflies then you must love milkweed. It is the onlyplant that the Monarchs lay their eggs on and the onlyplant that they eat as caterpillars.
The two favorites of the Monarch are (in this order) Common Milkweed and Swamp Milkweed — and we have both available for you to buy this weekend.
Saturday, August 9, 10:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monarchs are here and they’re laying eggs in gardens across Loudoun – even on plants that were just planted this past spring! If you need more milkweed plants (common milkweed or swamp milkweed) come to our plant sale and get what you need.
All plants are $3 each and are ready for planting and welcoming in the monarchs! We’ll have Monarch handouts and rearing cages available.
You’ll find us at Morven Park in the big parking lot on Southern Planter Lane. The address is 17263 Southern Planter Lane, Leesburg. Questions: Contact Nicole Hamilton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
These native milkweed plants are perennial – so plant them now and they’ll not only grow and thrive this year but also come back year after year to welcome the Monarchs to your garden.
All plants are $3 each.
In addition to planting milkweed at home, look around — do you see an open sunny grassy spot?
Those spots are wastelands — but you can convert them to a rich healthy habitat by planting a native garden that will come back year after year.
If you go to a church or live in a community with shared open space/landscaping, chat with people you know about creating a Monarch waystation together. It can save maintenance money and look beautiful.
Here are two quick tip sheets to help with planning:
Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy is joining forces with Moving for Monarchs and Monarch Watch to create a unique opportunity for local participants to take action in a nation-wide effortto save the monarch butterflies.
In an event designed to build community and enable people to take significant steps toward preserving the magnificent monarch migration, attendees will each plant two or three plants in a Monarch Waystation. They will also take part in a Monarch Move event during which the crowd will experience firsthand how we are all connected in the “Dance of Life.”
Participants’ monarch memories and stories will be gathered by the Moving for Monarchs team, and from these the group will create a short movement dance phrase. Along with Monarch Moves gathered in Mexico this past March, this brief movement story will become part of a growing international, crowd-sourced choreography.
This Dance and Plant event will take place at Loudoun Soccer Park, 19798 Sycolin Rd, Leesburg, VA, on Saturday, June 21, 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. It is free and open to the public, but due to the nature of the event, space is limited and so pre-registration is recommended. Registration is online at http://www.loudounwildlife.org/SignUp.htm. All ages are welcome, and no experience in gardening or dancing is necessary.
Milkweed plants (common and swamp milkweed) will be available for purchase, $3 per plant!
About Moving for Monarchs
“Moving for Monarchs” is a dance, film, and photography project designed to capture the public’s imagination while demonstrating that human beings and pollinators are intricately tied together in the “dance of life” and ultimately share the same fate.
The project has three goals: to raise awareness of the essential role of all pollinators in the “dance of life,” to highlight the plight of those pollinators, and to inspire grassroots action to restore habitats for monarchs and other pollinators by adding milkweeds and nectar plants to gardens.
Moving for Monarchs has conducted Monarch Move Events in Michoacan, Mexico, beginning the project where the monarchs begin their annual migration. Leesburg, VA, is the group’s first stop in the U.S. coinciding with National Pollinator Week. The team is tracing the migration, gathering the stories and Monarch Moves of people along the way who are working on behalf of the iconic butterfly.
Do you have milkweed and native nectar plants in your garden? If not, it’s time to get some! Be sure any milkweed you buy is PESTICIDE FREE. Pesticides kill the caterpillars that eat the milkweed leaves and that is just sad.
You can buy milkweed at one of our upcoming events listed on our calendar - the biggest one being on May 20th at Morven Park, 3:30 – 7:00 pm
Or buy it through Abernethy and Spencer in Purcellville or Wildwood/Petals and Hedges in Round Hill – they are selling NATIVE, PESTICIDE FREE plants too. More details are here on this sheet.
By now you’ve probably heard the news of the Monarch butterfly population. We expected the number to be low based on what we saw last summer and fall, but seeing the number in print (1.65 acres, 33 million butterflies) provided a visceral blow. As a comparison, in 1996, before the ramp-up of “Round-up Ready” GMO corn and soybean crops, the population was 51 acres and a billion butterflies.
So we are at a crossroads – a decision point for our generation: restoration or loss – our choice. And it’s not just the Monarch. They happen to be a recognizable species but as goes the Monarch so too do hundreds of species of other insects, birds, amphibians and more.
If you pick up a copy of the August 1976 issue of National Geographic or view it online you will see the Monarch population in all its glory. Today, the Monarch butterflies themselves make commentary on where we have come in the last 38 years and what we now stand witness to.
We did not weave the web of life, but as a human species we are actively unraveling it through our consumer footprint. Big Agribusiness focused on short-term profits has transformed the mid-western part of our country from prairies and farms that allowed co-existence of different species to monoculture crops that span pavement edge to pavement edge – and we let them do it. We bought their stories. We bought their products. We let them drive our values. But we don’t have to continue.
We can tell these companies what we want and we can show them with our purchasing power. We can favor nurseries that sell pesticide-free native plants. We can plant our gardens and show and lead others in our community in doing the same. We can write letters and crow about not only the future that we want, but the today that we need! What we do (or don’t do) matters – every day.
In 2013, hundreds of you stepped up here in Loudoun – over 3000 milkweed plants went into the ground, over 2800 people came to our speaker programs, and over 100 of you raised and released 2,502 Monarch Butterflies in Loudoun – and we haven’t stopped talking about it or making plans for moving forward. If the love of Monarchs can move a county, then we and others like us can move a Country. We can do it – but we have to be active in making it happen. We cannot stand simply as witnesses.
So this crossroads: Which way will we turn? Thirty-eight years from now, I envision someone like us – perhaps your own children grown up – looking back at these two checkpoints in time, 1976 and 2014 and saying, “Wow! That generation, my parents, my teachers, my friends, I turned the tide and brought back not only the Monarch but so much more!”
The road less traveled has some hurdles to cross and even some thorns to pass through, but as Robert Frost said, “that has made all the difference.”
See you in the garden, binoculars to the sky!
Join us in our effort to Bring Back the Milkweed, Bring Back the Monarch, and Keep the Magic Alive!
- Visit our booth at the Leesburg Flower & Garden Festival or Earth Day – pick up handouts, talk with us about creating a Monarch Waystation, pick up a Monarch rearing cage, a “Bring Back the Monarchs” t-shirt and more
- Plant a Monarch waystation (that’s just a fancy word for a garden or landscaping that has native milkweed and nectar plants). It can be as small as a container garden or as large as field or park or anything in between. It can be at home, at your church, at a park. It can replace the non-native landscaping or lawn anywhere. If you are a teacher in Loudoun, Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy will donate milkweed plants and help you set up a waystation at your school. Contact us to get started.
Don’t know where to buy milkweed? It will start being available in mid-May at the latest. Watch for a posting here on a big milkweed sale that we’ll hold towards the end of May and check with Abernethy & Spencer, WildWood Landscape/Petals & Hedges and Southern States (Purcellville and Middleburg). They will have it available for sale too – and members of Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy receive a discount at these nurseries! More information on plants is here
Keeping the Magic Alive Monarch awareness events have begun with a seasonal series of informative and hopeful “The Magic of Monarchs” presentations led by Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy president, Nicole Hamilton.
Last year, after the shocking loss of Monarch population numbers announcement, Loudoun Wildlife launched its Bringing Back the Monarch campaign. Efforts to save the Monarch include many long-term projects like public and private habitat restoration (planting Monarch Waystations), native plant sales, milkweed monitoring, raising & releasing Monarchs, and an important education component.
Hamilton’s presentations educate both the informed and the newcomer regarding today’s latest on the plight of the Monarch. She weaves critical information into cultural connections and the human experience. Her slideshow, data, photography, and genuine ethusiasm engage her audiences, and she sends them away with what she hopes is a new purpose and an understanding of the significance just one person can have on the future of this important species.
Loudoun Wildlife is proud of the county’s fellow conservationists and residents; last year’s campaign resulted in the release of 2,502 Monarchs here in Loudoun County! Fourteen of those successful releases were accomplished by an inspiring–and YOUNG–local citizen-scientist, Carter Steadman.
Today, Carter, age 9, joined Nicole Hamilton at the first ”The Magic of Monarchs” event of the season. He began by reminding the audience that, “…you’re never too young to make a difference.”
Nicole Hamilton, at Lovettsville Library, kicks off the season’s Monarch education events today (April 5th), and she is joined by a young Loudoun County Monarch conservationist, Carter Steadman.
Carter is a 3rd grader in Loudoun County at Hutchison Farm Elementary School, and he is worried that the Monarch might be gone before he even graduates high school.
Last year, while learning the enchanting science of life cycles in second grade, his teacher taught the class about the loss of the Monarch. Carter has said that this teacher “changed his life.” Why? Because armed with the knowledge of a problem, Carter believes a SOLUTION is achievable. Saving the Monarch has become Carter’s passion, and he has found an ally in Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy.
After spending last summer learning about raising caterpillars to adulthood and rearing multiple species of butterfly and moth (from found caterpillars), Carter decided he could help even more if he planted a Waystation of his own. For his birthday last September, asking his friends to skip the typical material gift and offer donations toward garden costs instead, Carter was able to build and register an official Monarch Waystation in his yard! He named his garden Lepidoptera Lane because he hopes it will be a long-term habitat for butterflies, and a nectaring-point for migrating Monarchs.
Since then, Carter has realized how important it is to teach people about the Monarch–and that education is perhaps the most powerful solution.
“If I plant a garden, that’s something…but if others know how to do it, too–then all of a sudden there’s SO many more gardens and so much MORE habitat for the Monarch.”
So, Carter wants to get kids and their families involved, and he’s working hard to get the word out about the Monarch. Recently, and with the support of a teacher and the leadership at his school, Carter is planning to install a Monarch Waystation & Learning Garden so that his classmates–and the school’s future students–can learn about life cycles, habitats, and conservation…hands-on. WOW! He has already begun fundraising for the project which is slated to break ground in May, pending official approval.
But Carter’s not just interested in the grounds of his neighborhood…he wants to plant seeds in people, too–seeds of knowledge! He has been building a website geared at educating his fellow young citizen advocates, and he’s panning to meet you, along with Nicole Hamilton, at more of Loudoun Wildlife’s Monarch events. Like Carter said today:
“ The greatest thing you can do is tell someone, share about the Monarch with other people–that is how to fix the problem.”
Share his site, butterflybuddy.com, with the young people in your lives, and come on out to one of the upcoming Loudoun Wildlife ”The Magic of Monarchs” events (schedule below).
Did you see a Monarch Butterfly today? Well wish it well for the great migration to Mexico because that’s where it’s headed! Today marks the start of the peak migration for our latitude (39).
Monarch Watch put together this great table that shows how the migration plays out.
Peak in monarch abundance
24 August -5 September
29 August – 10 September
3 – 15 September
8 – 20 September
19 September – 1 October
24 September – 6 October
29 September – 11 October
20 October – 1 November
27 October -8 November
Monarchs are triggered to migrate by the shorter days and cooler temperatures and in fact, the butterflies that emerge in this late summer/early fall period do not develop sexually. Instead they go into a state of diapause (like a long term adolescence) and just focus on nectaring and flying south to Mexico.
Once they arrive in Mexico (around the last week of October) they’ll rest for the winter and then by next February, they’ll become sexually mature, mate and start the journey north, laying eggs in the spring.
If you see a Monarch over the next few weeks, take a minute to watch and enjoy, and when it takes off whisper a wish for safe travels!
This fantastic video tells the whole story – watch it and share it far and wide!
“As milkweed goes, so goes the Monarch” Plant milkweed now — it’ll grow up big and strong for next Spring!
As we head into fall, adult Monarchs need nectar plants – forget the Mums – plant Goldenrods and Asters! They perennial (come back every year), are native to Loudoun (unlike Mums which are from Asia), and they are beautiful!
Well we couldn’t get up to the Adirondacks to see Chip Taylor in person but he just gave this great talk on Monarch Butterflies at The Wild Center and they were kind enough to record it so we could share it with you!
In his talk he discusses not only the population trends but also causes like Climate Change and the use of GMO crops and herbicides.
Excellent program, about an hour long so settle in and enjoy!