To the Editor:
Start looking to the skies from now until mid-October for monarch butterflies, our annual orange fluttering guests, on their annual 2,000-plus-mile migration to Mexico. There will be smaller numbers sighted before and after this time period. However, the greater numbers will be more prevalent then. Last year I saw them into early November.
I have been hearing many reports of monarchs fluttering in LBI residents’ gardens this summer. Also, people are calling me about way stations they have created in their gardens, planting milkweed and flowers specifically geared toward monarchs. Milkweed is the only plant monarchs lay their eggs on, as it is the only food their offspring can eat.
Because LBI has mostly hard landscaping, the food sources for the butterflies and their offspring are rapidly diminishing. Diminished food sources and pesticides are the causes of the declining population.
I offer free seeds at my presentations on LBI to everyone who wishes to start their own mini way stations. All you need is a large potting container and seeds.
From June 22 until today I have had monarchs laying eggs and flying around my habitat every day, all day. You can do this, too. I have released over 300. Other people have started their own way stations. One LBI resident reported she has raised 50 so far this year.
For those interested, I will be available during the kite festival at Firefly in Surf City, Oct. 8, 10 a.m. to noon.
Below are the simple directions to create your own mini (non-invasive) container garden. Plant seeds as they have a longer growing period, and supplement with established plants. Ask your nursery if the plants have been treated with pesticides – even organic pesticides kill caterpillars and bees.
According to Butterfly Weed and Bright Light Cosmos seed planting instructions (the seed packets I have been sharing with LBI residents), sow seeds in a sunny location late fall in a large plastic pot or container or directly in the ground. Cover one-quarter inch. In the spring they should poke up and be the beginnings of your own monarch way station.
North Beach Haven