In an effort to revive last year’s Bicentennial push for 200 Monarch butterfly gardens in Monroe County, some community organizations and individuals have come together with a plan for the season.
Waterloo Garden Club president Steve Notheisen said Monarch butterflies are on their way, making this the perfect time to reignite the spark that fueled places like Oak Hill to install a garden for these at-risk creatures. Monarchwatch.org shows a population decrease of 27 percent from 2016 to the current year.
“Anything we do now will be beneficial by then,” Notheisen said.
Notheisen, who wants 75 gardens in Waterloo alone, said butterfly packets with milkweed seed are again available at Waterloo City Hall. He also mentioned two community events that will take place this spring.
One of these events, hosted by the Waterloo Garden Club, is a presentation on “The Importance of Attracting Butterflies to Your Garden” and will take place at 7 p.m. May 11 at The Beacon. Coordinator Susan Rick of the Baebler Educational Farm in Waterloo will be the keynote speaker. For more information, contact Notheisen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Morrison-Talbott Library, the kick-off for its summer reading program will include an interactive Monarch butterfly presentation and the planting of milkweed seed at the library’s garden. The program is slated for 10 a.m. June 3. For more information, call the library at 939-6232.
Notheisen added that Columbia girl scout Kelsey Weatherford will be at the June 3 program. Recently, Weatherford installed five Monarch butterfly gardens in Columbia for her Girl Scout Gold Award project.
“Without pollinators like the Monarch butterfly, we wouldn’t have the vast variety of crops that we have today,” Kelsey said in a press release.
Added Notheisen, “Kelsey has done a great job of planting gardens and really took off with that. I’m real proud of her. I’m real excited to have her.”
Among some of the other new gardens installed in the county since last year, one butterfly garden now sits at Magnolia Terrace, a division of Oak Hill. Baebler Education Farm in Waterloo also established a pollinator garden to attract different species of insects, including Monarch Butterflies.
“We had quite a few (Monarchs last year),” Rick said. “They totally annihilated all of my milkweed.”
She also noted the Monarchs appear to be coming back to the garden this season.
In other recent news, Waterloo Mayor Tom Smith pledged for the city to be a sanctuary city for Monarchs and butterfly gardens during Monday night’s city council meeting. Milkweed seed will also be added to existing gardens at the south and west entrances to the city.
Notheisen, who remains optimistic about the city reaching its goal, said certifying a butterfly garden costs $20, the garden must be at least three square feet and must contain the milkweed plant needed for the Monarch to hatch its larvae.
“If it takes two, three years, it’s no big deal. It will happen eventually,” he said.