Project aims to save Monarch butterflies

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Pictured are Milkweed in the foreground on the far left side at Stephanie Purcell’s Waterloo garden. These plants are what Monarch butterflies rely on to lay their eggs in the spring, summer and early fall. (submitted photo)
Pictured are Milkweed in the foreground on the far left side at Stephanie Purcell’s Waterloo garden. These plants are what Monarch butterflies rely on to lay their eggs in the spring, summer and early fall. (submitted photo)

The decline in population of the Monarch butterfly brought Waterloo Garden Club president Steve Notheisen to appreciate the idea of establishing butterfly gardens in Waterloo.

Meanwhile, a goal of 200 butterfly gardens is well received by Monroe County Clerk Dennis Knobloch and others, looking to keep the county’s bicentennial celebration going. He said the county was approached about butterfly gardens by the city of Waterloo.

“We would like to see 200 butterfly gardens established in Monroe County in recognition of the 200th birthday of the county,” Knobloch told the Republic-Times. “This is definitely an ambitious goal, but it can be achieved if we all pitch in to make it happen.”

Only about 56.5 million monarchs remain, representing a population decline of more than 80 percent in the last 21 years across North America, according to the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation website.

Pictured are several Monarch butterflies feasting on the nectar of daisies in Waterloo resident Stephanie Purcell’s 32-square-foot circular garden at her home in Waterloo. (submitted photo)
Pictured are several Monarch butterflies feasting on the nectar of daisies in Waterloo resident Stephanie Purcell’s 32-square-foot circular garden at her home in Waterloo. (submitted photo)

One of the main contributing factors is habitat loss. Notheisen noted milkweed is the only plant a Monarch butterfly can use to lay its eggs, but farmers must do away with the weed to maintain their crops.

“It’s a common farm-field nuisance weed, so it’s eradicated as much as it is populated,” said Lisa Dean of First Baptist Church, who is also an Illinois master gardener.

One of the purposes of a master gardener is to “develop and enhance community programs related to horticulture.”

Dean must annually complete 30 volunteer hours and 10 hours of continuing education to maintain master gardener status. Master gardeners go through extensive training and internships through the University of Illinois Extension.

Despite the issue of habitat loss, Notheisen is confident he will see at least 75 butterfly gardens in Waterloo over the next couple years. Notheisen said Waterloo currently contains 12 butterfly gardens…>>>

 

Read this story in the April 20 issue of the Republic-Times. If you don’t already receive the paper, you can subscribe by calling 939-3814 or clicking here. Or you can pick up a copy at the R-T office at 205 W. Mill Street in Waterloo or at any of these other locations.

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