The 2017 monarch release parade is coming up!
Monarch Butterfly Release Parade!
Thursday, August 17th, 1 to 2:30pm, rain date Friday 8/18 at the same time. Parade starts from Water Treatment Facility at 2pm!
This will be the release of our monarchs back into the wild! A parade - open to all; costumes and noisemakers encouraged - will take us from the Water Treatment Facility to Lusitania Meadow where we’ll send our butterflies off into the flowers. Feel free to just meet us as the meadow too! Volunteers needed to help with costumes and decorations.
The monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) is an amazing insect and pollinator. Migrating every late summer-early fall, a single individual may travel thousands of miles to overwinter in warmer climes; even a monarch from Canada will travel to the forests of Mexico on its small wings!
Unfortunately, this inspiring species is threatened worldwide. In North America, the population is estimated to have dropped by nearly 90% from the 1990s to the present day. While monarch butterflies face numerous threats throughout their life cycle – both natural and human-induced—it is widely acknowledged that habitat loss is the single most devastating blow to the species in North America. Specifically, monarch butterflies depend upon milkweed (Asclepia spp.), which is generally in decline across the country, for their caterpillars to hatch and mature into adults. Additionally, overwintering sites in Mexico are under threat from logging.
But we have a chance to make a difference here at Fresh Pond! In this project, we will:
- plant milkweed to bolster the plant’s spread on the Reservation
- plant additional butterfly-friendly wildflowers as nectar sources
- weed out invasive black swallow-wort, which pushes out native nectar plants and also (as a relative to milkweed) upon which monarchs mistakenly lay eggs, poisoning caterpillars
- raise 28 monarch caterpillars and release them
While we hope this will benefit the monarch population, this project will also improve habitat for other pollinators, upon which healthy native plant communities depend. Healthy plant communities improve natural water quality protection, biodiversity and the overall aesthetic of the Reservation.
Learn more about the magnificent monarch butterfly and conservation efforts at:
MonarchWatch.org: Education, Conservation, & Research
Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation
University of Minnesota: Finding, Collecting, and Growing Milkweed
PBS.org: Journey of the Butterflies
Vox.com article: Monarch butterflies are headed for extinction. We may have to get creative to save them.
Telegraph article: Monarch butterflies use internal compass to find their way
Boston.com: Cambridge declares war on invasive vine