Motherhouse Entices Monarch Butterflies
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.
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 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.
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 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!
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.
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.