This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
Oklahoma Outside


Save the Monarch W By Dee Nash


hen I was a child, Monarch butterfl ies fi lled the Oklahoma skies every September as they migrated to their winter quar- ters in the mountains of Mexico. However, according to the Monarch Conservation Science Partnership, Eastern Monarchs could become “quasi-extinct” within 20 years if we don’t work to restore their habitat and larval food source. Before you panic, there is good news. For the fi rst time in recent years,


Monarchs saw an increase in numbers during the winter of 2015-2016. Conservation agencies work tirelessly to save Monarchs with way stations and education, but backyard gardeners can also help. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service partnered with the National Wildlife


Federation and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, along with other state and federal agencies, as the Monarch Joint Venture to plant milkweed especially along the I-35 corridor. Oklahoma is at the crossroads for both bird and butterfl y migration, and we can make a signifi cant impact for all pollinators and birds by planting the right food in our gardens. “Oklahoma is a vital pathway for migrating Monarchs, and we should celebrate it,” said Marilyn Stewart, owner of Wild Things Nursery located in southeastern Oklahoma. How can you help? It’s not as diffi cult as you might think. “Plant milkweed, lots and lots of milkweed. Everyone can make a differ- ence,” Stewart said. “Don’t use chemicals, particularly systemics” [chemical pesticides absorbed by plants]. When visiting a nursery, ask if systemic pes- ticides have been used. If employees don’t know the answer, fi nd a different nursery.”


Although Stewart’s nursery doesn’t have a storefront, you can fi nd her selling pollinator-friendly plants—including various types of milkweed—at festivals throughout the state. “One of the fi rst things people need to understand is the life cycle of the butterfl y. Each species of butterfl y (and many moths and other pollinators) are specifi c feeders. Butterfl ies will only lay eggs on their larval host plant,” Stewart said. “If you move a Monarch caterpillar from milkweed to any other kind of plant, it will die. Insects and native plants evolved together.” Milkweeds are all part of the genus Asclepias. Which milkweed you should grow depends upon the part of Oklahoma where you live. On websites, gardeners are told not to plant tropical milkweed, especially


in Texas and other coastal states, where it can overwinter. Stewart is okay with growing tropical milkweed in Oklahoma because the plant dies at our fi rst freeze. She stresses planting any type of milkweed wherever you can.


28


Monarch adult on a Will’s Wonderful Mum. Photo by Dee Nash


“One thing I would add is don’t overwinter the tropical as this can en- courage the spread of Ophryocystis elektroscirrha,” a parasite that infects both Queen and Monarch butterfl ies. “Most of our native milkweeds have gone dormant by late summer leaving nowhere for the Monarch to lay eggs,” she said. “The main exception is Cynanchum laeve, bluevine. This vine is cursed by many because it can twine over everything and oddly, I usually fi nd it in alleyways and untended small town main street fl owerbeds.”


Although Stewart is passionate about native plants, she also suggests trop-


ical milkweeds have a place in the Oklahoma garden for migrating butterfl ies.


Several volunteer Monarch groups are devoted to conservation. Oklahoma Friends of Monarchs and the Monarch Initiative of Tulsa are two groups that share information and seeds with gardeners in our state. I’m a member of both groups. With their guidance, I raised my fi rst Monarch eggs to release as full-grown butterfl ies last fall. It was a great feeling when I let them fl y away. I also planted a swathe of milkweed seeds in my garden. With perseverance, perhaps we can help bring Monarchs back from quasi-extinction one garden at a time. I’m willing to try. Are you?


More Information and Plant Sources The Kerr Center, http://kerrcenter.com/


wp-content/uploads/2016/03/milkweed-guide- book-for-web.pdf


Monarch Watch, http://www.monarchwatch.


org/ Prairie Moon Nursery, https://www.prai-


riemoon.com/milkweed-asclepias/ Wild Things Nursery, http://www.wildth-


ingsnursery.com/


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83  |  Page 84  |  Page 85  |  Page 86  |  Page 87  |  Page 88  |  Page 89  |  Page 90  |  Page 91  |  Page 92  |  Page 93  |  Page 94  |  Page 95  |  Page 96  |  Page 97  |  Page 98  |  Page 99  |  Page 100  |  Page 101  |  Page 102  |  Page 103  |  Page 104  |  Page 105  |  Page 106  |  Page 107  |  Page 108  |  Page 109  |  Page 110  |  Page 111  |  Page 112  |  Page 113  |  Page 114  |  Page 115  |  Page 116  |  Page 117  |  Page 118  |  Page 119  |  Page 120  |  Page 121  |  Page 122  |  Page 123  |  Page 124  |  Page 125  |  Page 126  |  Page 127  |  Page 128  |  Page 129  |  Page 130