Enjoy and aid monarch butterflies this summer
Courtesy of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
WISCONSIN – Are you seeing monarch butterflies where you live? 2020’s second generation of these iconic butterflies is now gracing our Wisconsin gardens and grasslands.
These butterflies and their progeny each live about a month before the 4th “Supergeneration” emerges in August, fuels up and flies 1,700 miles to Mexico to overwinter. They start returning in late winter and lay their eggs in Texas and other southern states. Typically this generation, and sometimes the next, reach Wisconsin.
We can help monarchs across all their life stages and generations. Here are a few ways to help so monarchs can continue to be part of the wonder of nature.
It’s not too late to plant native wildflowers to aid monarchs
Native garden stores are still selling native milkweed and nectar plant seedlings that are easy to add to a garden or container on your balcony. Try late blooming plants like showy blazing star or goldenrod, New England aster or sweet black-eyed Susan.
Find plant lists, a list of Wisconsin Native Plant Nurseries, and more resources on the Wisconsin Monarch Collaborative website habitat pages: www.wiatri.net/Projects/Monarchs/habitat.cfm.
Add your monarch habitat to Wisconsin’s tally
Use a new, free mobile application to record the number of milkweed and wildflower nectar plants in your backyard or farmyard habitat and help Wisconsin reach its goal of adding 120 new million stems of milkweed by 2038.
The app, HabiTally, was developed by Iowa State University. The Wisconsin Monarch Collaborative and groups in other states are using it to track progress toward reaching statewide and overall regional goals for restoring habitat. Information collected through the app is completely anonymous and aggregated at the county level.
Anyone can use the app, available as a free download for iOS devices from the App Store. A free download for Android is expected any day now.
Why monarchs need our help
Planting monarch habitat is even more important in 2020 because Mexico’s overwintering counts of the eastern migratory monarch butterfly population decreased by 53 percent from last year, as shown in this graph below.
Learn more about this decrease and the factors behind it in this analysis (www.monarchjointventure.org/images/uploads/presentations/MLMPUpdate_March2020.pdf) from Karen Oberhauser, director of the UW-Madison Arboretum and a leading monarch researcher for over 30 years.