"The Monarch butterfly migrates from North America each year to a small town in Mexico. It takes four generations to complete this journey. As the butterflies migrate, they eat nectar and help pollinate our plants that make food. Monarch butterflies only lay their eggs on Milkweed (Asclepias.spp.) plant. Without the plant, they cannot lay their eggs, and without the butterflies to help pollinate, we will lose our valuable sources of food. Butterfly populations have drastically dwindled over the years due to loss of habitat, motor vehicles, and disease. This way station will be a new home to help the butterflies on their long migration.
We created a habitat for butterflies and other insects, mitigating storm water runoff, and helping to boost a dying population of pollinators. Our plan is to inspire others in the area to create their own monarch waystation and add to the Monarch Butterfly Waystation registry. The community can see how an unsightly pit can be repurposed into something useful. " - Christina Hall & Molly Lemke, Summer 2020
As part of Env 230/330 Stewardship of Watershed Ecosystems Summer II classwork, students developed and planted a monarch waystation in the detention basin at the John Stewart Memorial Library.
Existing plant material included yellow nutsedge, thistle and jewelweed. Students removed thistle and preserved the native species as appropriate nectar plants and groundcover. Compost and additional plant material was added to the area including multiple varieties of Asclepias (milkweed) the host plant for Monarch butterfly larvae. Rush plants were gently divided last fall from the basin at Lortz and VEC to create a harmonious landscape across the campus. Other varieties of annual and perennial plant material will be added including appropriate nectar plants to encourage monarch and other pollenators while adding color and interest to the area. Students were involved in all aspects of the planning, planting, documentation, and certification of the project. You can view their campus presentation here.
This area will now serve as an educational feature in the heart of campus. As part of our coursework, we registered our site with the Monarch Waystation Network and installed interpretive signage. Overall, it will greatly improve the campus aesthetics and bring life to this area.
Moving forward, biology, ecology, and environmental studies, and other classes can incorporate this feature into their classwork in a variety of ways. Insect counts, pupae scouting, and monarch population studies are a few of the projects that could lend themselves to any of the natural science lab components. Individual students, Curran Bonner Leader scholars, clubs or classes such as Gardening for Fitness or First Year Seminar can earn service hours maintaining the area, reducing the need for overall maintenance by the grounds crew.
The cost to establish our Waystation was negligible. Plant material was donated by the Franklin County Master Gardeners and others. Compost and other planting supplies were supplied by FCSS. Registration fees for the waystation and signage costs were minimal and were paid for through our Cargill Endowment Environmental fund.
You can learn earn more about this national conservation effort, including further guidance and application details at https://monarchwatch.org