Be on the lookout for Monarch butterflies passing through Bryan/College Station any day now. Butterfly enthusiast Dr. Craig Wilson with Texas A&M and the USDA/Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is expecting the arrival of migrating Monarchs from Mexico any day now. It is thought that the remigration of the butterflies into the United States will be dangerously low this year. This prediction is based upon recent observations of the extreme drought conditions and that the colonies are dispersed and low in numbers in Mexico.
Their numbers may be down but even to see one rising into the air as its orange and black wings warm in the early morning Sun is breathtaking. You will increase your chances of seeing them by adding milkweed plants (genus, Asclepias) to your garden and so do your part to help sustain this threatened natural phenomenon. Milkweeds are the sole source of food for the Monarch caterpillars and more plants will be able to support a larger population. That bodes well for the number of emerging adults that can continue the migration northwards.
If you do not have a garden even a window box with a milkweed plant will likely attract a Monarch or feel free to visit the USDA People’s Garden at 110 Holleman Drive East opposite the entrance to Wolf Pen Creek Park and beside Post Oak Mall. As explained in the recent March 2013 Insite article about Agriculture (pp.32-34) the garden is open to the public and visitors are welcome.
A good source to buy milkweed plants is the Producers Cooperative Association at 1800 North Texas Avenue in Bryan. The Lawn and Garden manager, Hope Moriarty, has kindly contacted her suppliers and has agreed to make sure that the Cooperative nursery has milkweed plants for sale in readiness for the Monarchs’ imminent arrival.
For more information on Monarch butterflies, visit http://www.learner.org/jnorth/monarch/. For the source of milkweed seeds and information on creating your own Monarch Wayststion/butterfly garden visit http://www.monarchwatch.org/