Gardening for nature A

s winter starts to wind down and spring is in sight, it is time to start thinking of the garden.

This year, consider planting an area dedicated to birds, bees, and butter- flies. The past several years have been very concerning for monarch but- terflies in particular. A combination

of issues Monarch butterflies lay eggs on milkweed - it’s the only plant monarch caterpillars will eat.

contributed to estimat- ed populations of 350 million dropping to a shocking number of 60 million in just one year. Some of the fac- tors were colder than normal weather and a continued decline of milkweed throughout the U.S. Milkweed is a very important plant to monarchs; the adults drink nectar from the flowers and it is the only plant they lay their eggs on. It nor- mally grows on the outskirts of agri- cultural areas but a rise in genetically modified crops that use the herbicide, Roundup, have had a negative impact on milkweed. Modified seeds are re- sistant to the herbicide, but milkweed is not and therefore it has been wiped out in some areas. Monarchs overwinter in Mexico and, as they migrate through the U.S. north to Canada, they feed and lay eggs on milkweed.. Due to the decline of this native plant and colder than normal springs, the monarchs are struggling to boost their population. The summer of 2013 was by far the worst year ever for the lack of mon- archs throughout their entire range but things are gradually improving.

Sherrie Versluis Feathered Friends

Due to awareness, individual garden- ers throughout North America have been planting all the right plants and their efforts are beginning to pay off. Consider adding plants to your gar- den this spring to help the butterflies when they arrive here this year. There are many campaigns throughout the U.S. to encourage people to do the same. Planting milk- weed is the number one thing to do. This is the only plant the caterpillars eat, it provides them with all the nutrients needed to transform them into a beautiful adult but- terfly. From hatching, a monarch caterpillar only lives two weeks before it transforms itself into a chrysalis, ten days later the butterfly emerges.

Other plants to cater to many spe- cies of butterflies, bees, humming- birds, and even finches include black- eyed Susan, goldenrod, Joe Pye weed, butterfly bush, purple coneflower, zin- nias, asters, bee balm, purple clover, salvia, blazing star, lupine, coreopsis, columbine, hollyhock, delphinium, and nicotiana. These are still not all of the plants you can pick from! You can attract black and eastern

tiger swallowtail butterfly larvae with herbs such as parsley, dill, and fennel. If you find caterpillars in your garden, be sure to identify them before de- stroying them as they may be butter- fly larvae. Some gardeners will grow containers of these herbs separately from their garden to re-locate the cat- erpillars that may be eating their own harvest.

Some neat facts on monarchs: • The difference of a male and fe- male is only the male has black spots on the wings. • Monarchs go through four gen- erations per year. The first three only live six weeks as they lay eggs for the final fourth generation which lives six to eight months. The final generation is the only one to migrate all the way to Mexico and starts the cycle for the next four generations each spring. • Monarchs that live at the most northern point of their range will travel about 4800 kms round trip for their migration. • Monarchs are the only insect to

make such a journey and it is amazing that these delicate creatures know and follow the same routes as their ances- tors each year. Plant a garden this year that will benefit wildlife and you! Visit us in May when we will have a wonderful array of these plants to attract these beautiful creatures to your garden! Sherrie Versluis owns the


Perch and is an avid birder. For more information on helping to

save the monarch go to savethemonarch-

Lianne Tregobov INTUITIVE


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