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Motherhouse Entices Monarch Butterflies

Posted on July 1, 2019, by Susan Classen CoL

The food supply for monarch butterflies received a boost at the Motherhouse in May with the planting of 4 acres of milkweed and other plants favored by pollinators.

As Motherhouse residents applaud, Joyce Minkler releases monarch butterflies onto the Motherhouse grounds.
(Photo by Susan Classen)

Last fall, Infirmary physician Dr. Lida Oxnard brought a mesh cage with a dozen monarch caterpillars to the Motherhouse so that we could enjoy watching the metamorphosis of the butterflies. Oxnard became interested in monarchs after seeing a display at the Motherhouse about their decline. Here we see Joyce Minkler holding the cage as the Community watches the new butterflies being released.

A newly emerged butterfly finds a welcoming spot on the finger of Marie Ego SL as Martha Fly CoL looks on in the background.
(Photo by Susan Classen)

A newly emerged butterfly found a welcoming spot on Marie Ego’s finger as Martha Fly looks on in the background. Raising the caterpillars and releasing the butterflies generated great excitement and concern about the loss of milkweed that precipitated the decline of monarchs. Setting aside land for monarch habitat was a natural next step.

Gary Libby from Skybax Ecological Services helps to convert a portion of the Motherhouse lawn above Badin Pond to pollinator habitat.
(Photo by Susan Classen)

We decided that an acre area above Badin Pond would be a good spot since it would be easily accessible for golf cart rides and walking. Gary Libby from Skybax Ecological Services helped implement the process of converting lawn to pollinator habitat.

About 120 potted flowers of pollinator habitat were planted nearby where the Motherhouse cows graze.
(Photo by Susan Classen)

About 120 potted flowers were planted under close supervision from the cows! The rest of the area was planted with seeds. Butterfly milkweed, false blue indigo, white turtlehead, prairie blazing star, foxglove beardtongue; the flowers are as diverse and intriguing as their names!

The Motherhouse's 3-acre Nature Preserve Cemetery meadow was planted with four kinds of milkweed.
(Photo by Susan Classen)

A week later, the 3-acre Nature Preserve Cemetery meadow was planted with four different kinds of milkweed thanks to a USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) grant, which provides free plants through Monarch Watch. We planted swamp milkweed, whorled milkweed, butterfly milkweed and common milkweed.

Fourteen-month-old Elizabeth Rakes works on the pollinator habitat along with her parents, Cody and Angela Rakes.
(Photo by Susan Classen)

Here we see 14-month-old Elizabeth Rakes working along with her parents, Cody and Angela Rakes. With help from the town of Loretto’s Green Thumb Gang Garden Club, we were able to plant all of the milkweed in an hour!

But that’s not all! The positive energy is spreading as the Green Thumb Gang plans a project to plant milkweed behind the Marion County (Ky.) Middle School in the fall.

Susan Classen CoL

Susan Classen CoL

Susan has been a Loretto Co-member since 1996. She is the director of Cedars of Peace, a retreat center on the grounds of the Loretto Motherhouse. A passion for transformation is the common thread that weaves its way through her varied interests which include gardening, woodworking, retreat leading and involvement in Loretto’s Farm and Land Management Committee. Previously, she lived and worked in Latin America.
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Loretto welcomes you

Learn more or plan a visit to the Motherhouse!