Salemtowne Becomes a Monarch Waystation

According to the US Forest Service, the monarch butterfly is the only butterfly known to make a two-way migration each year. Unlike other butterflies that can overwinter, monarchs cannot survive the cold winters of northern climates. Each fall, hundreds of millions of monarch butterflies migrate from the United States and Canada to mountains in central Mexico where they wait out the winter until conditions favor a return flight in the spring.

Monarchs are in danger of extinction because of breeding habitat loss and degradation, pesticide use, genetically modified organisms, and wintering habitat loss and degradation. Monarch waystations provide resources necessary for monarchs to produce successive generations and sustain their migration.

“Monarchs are voracious eaters. A caterpillar can devour an entire leaf in just five minutes! Some milkweed plants native to North Carolina are butterfly weed, common milkweed, poke milkweed, and swamp milkweed. Our state’s nectar plants include, coreopsis, goldenrod, asters, Joe Pye Weed, and purple coneflower, to name a few,” said Salemtowne resident and Monarch enthusiast Katherine Snavely.

By establishing a Monarch Waystation, Salemtowne is contributing to an effort that will help assure the preservation of the species and the continuation of the spectacular monarch migration phenomenon. Snavely, who worked to create the waystation, began working with monarchs as a volunteer at Pocahontas State Park in Chesterfield County, VA.

“Every Thursday evening from the first of May to the end of September, we gathered at their Bright Hope Butterfly Garden. First, we worked on garden maintenance. We weeded, watered, trimmed, and planted new plants,” she said. “Then came the exciting part. We collected data for the University of Minnesota’s Monarch Larva Monitoring Project. What would we find? Would there be eggs? Caterpillars? Chrysalises? Adults? YES! At one time or another we found all the phases.

“We sent our findings to the University of Minnesota. It was great fun and a wonderful memory,” Snavely added. “With our Monarch Waystation at Salemtowne, we can continue this really important work to support our monarchs.”

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