The city has received two designations in its efforts to create and conserve habitat for monarch butterflies, both as breeding area and migration stopover. Two Rivers was named a Monarch City USA for preserving and expanding areas of milkweed and nectar plants to support the survival and recovery of monarch populations. And the Lester Public Library gardens were designated a Monarch Waystation by Monarch Watch, a Kansas University and Kansas Biological Survey program that focuses on the annual North American migration of the butterfly to assess the need for pollinator habitat conservation.
Plants vital to monarch survival are declining across the nation. Without milkweeds throughout their spring and summer breeding areas in North America, monarchs could not produce the successive generations that culminate in the migration each fall. And without nectar from flowers, these fall migratory monarch butterflies couldn’t sustain their long journey to overwintering grounds in Mexico.
Two Rivers has committed to provide necessary resources for the annual cycle of reproduction and migration. Planting areas contain milkweeds (where the butterflies lay their eggs and the only plants upon which monarch caterpillars feed), nectar plants, and shelter.
The butterfly-friendly areas host successive generations throughout the spring and summer, each spanning four to five weeks, which culminate in a super generation with a nine-month lifespan—the Methuselah generation. This is the generation which undertakes the arduous journey to the Oyamel fir forests of a specific area in Mexico. The butterflies must intensely feed upon nectar to sustain migration, and to build reserves for overwintering (the Methuselah generation doesn’t just get to Mexico; they spend the winter there).
Make plans to benefit butterflies this summer! Everyone can help, even if you just plant a window box; find tips.
Photo: Methuselah-generation monarchs fueling up at the library’s waystation as they prepare to cross Lake Michigan en route to Mexico.