On Friday, July 26th two monarch butterflies were spotted on the SW corner of Sunnyside & Bank outside the Dollar Store. On Saturday, July 27th another monarch danced among the milkweed on the corner of Fairbairn near Bank on the east side of the Firehall.
Unusual, you might ask? No, monarchs love milkweed and for several years now Green Dreamers have been cultivating this wild perennial hoping that monarch butterflies would feed on their preferred plant food right here in our own “street yard”.
The milkweed plant provides all the nourishment a monarch caterpillar needs to transform itself into a butterfly! What is unusual is that over the years the milkweed has been receding, thwarted in its proliferation by pavement, concrete, cultivated lots, and an aesthetic that does not seem to include native or wild plants.
With the disappearance of its natural habitat, milkweed no longer grows in the large clusters it is wont to do. With the loss of milkweed the monarch population has dwindled. The monarch is a pollinator, fertilizing a variety of wildflowers. Most monarchs only live a few weeks but the generation that follows in late summer or early fall will live for 8 or 9 months and migrate as far as California or Mexico.
It’s quite magical to have monarch butterflies dance around you while working in the garden. They are friendly delicate creatures that flit, flutter, and hover while you weed, hose, or simply pause for the entertainment. At Sunnyside & Bank two monarchs wound their way in and out of the milkweed and echinacea, doing figure eights around each other, dipping and diving higher and higher into the open air as two Green Dreamers dampened the parched earth, pausing to take in one morning’s sweet offering.