Garden Club of Long Beach Island’s Monarch Butterfly Project Successful

Nov 22, 2017

The Garden Club of Long Beach Island began a project to bring awareness to the public on the plight of the Monarch butterfly. In 2017, members found various locations from one end of Long Beach Island to the other for the placement of containers of plants to help the butterflies, plus planting instructions and information.

Club member Teresa Hagan headed the project, which was able to achieve the goals of educating the public on the dangers posed to monarchs and to begin a sustainable breeding project.  

People attracted by the beautiful containers and plantings stopped, read the signs and asked questions, said Hagan. “The most frequent question was ‘Where can I buy milkweed?’ so the interest is there.” 

The club also released many monarchs – more than it expected to have. One nursery produced 48 butterflies and two failures, an astonishing 96 percent success rate as compared to the one in 10 that make it in the wild. The garden club hopes to increase the number of nurseries to 20 in 2018. Along with encouraging private breeding stations, this will really help boost populations.

“There’s still a lot to do,” Hagan said. “It was a wonderful summer for monarchs. Conditions were perfect for breeding so people saw many, many more than in previous years. But we shouldn’t become complacent because, according to ‘Raise the Migration,’ a group that monitors and advises on how to increase the monarch population, the warmer fall caused what would normally be the ‘migration generation’ to stick around and breed ,and their offspring hatched later than usual and delayed migration. The sudden change in weather up north and colder weather along their route could wipe out any gains and then some.

“Here on LBI, we saw monarchs late into November, but we also found many more dead ones. We can’t do much about climate change, but, hopefully, by increasing their numbers, we can raise the odds of many more making it to their winter resting grounds in Mexico.”

The Garden Club of Long Beach Island is committed to sustaining and increasing the monarch populations next year and in coming years.

“Next year, we plan to erect larger and more comprehensive signs and perhaps, funds permitting, publish pamphlets on raising monarchs in your own gardens or pots. We also hope to have a special activity for children, a chance to be photographed as a ‘butterfly.’ Large wooden monarchs – with cutouts for the child’s face – will be placed at three locations, north, south and central on the Island.” 

— Pat Johnson

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