|Monarch Butterfly Aid: Planting Natives|
|Written by Lisa Duke|
|Tuesday, 30 July 2013 16:54|
The Kellogg Bird Sanctuary is a great place to see a wide variety of wildlife! Our name may suggest that all we focus on are birds, but we do so much more than that! The Sanctuary has diverse habitat on its grounds that support a variety of plants and animals, including insects. One of the ways we work to improve the quality of our habitat is with the removal of invasive plant species and the planting of native plants. When you visit the Sanctuary, make sure that you check out our Pollinator Garden just outside our Bookstore. It features all native plant species, except for a few non-natives that have made their way in through seed dispersal.
Planting native plants is a good way to help stop the spread of invasive plants and also to provide natural habitat for insects and animals that rely on them for food and shelter. One example of an insect that relies on a native plant species for survival is the Monarch butterfly. Their caterpillars depend on their host plant, which is native Milkweed, as a food source. Without these plants, the Monarch butterfly would have no way to survive and would eventually disappear. Recently, the Monarch butterfly population has started to decline due to habitat loss.
There are three main subspecies of Milkweed that are native to the United States: Swamp Milkweed, Common Milkweed, and Butterfly Weed. Common Milkweed and Butterfly Weed can both be seen in our Pollinator Garden, whereas Swamp Milkweed can be seen growing along the Lake Loop Trail. All of them are important to helping restore the Monarch population and will provide nectar for other insects as well.
Swamp Milkweed will grow in swampy areas on lakeshores or marshes, but will also grow in your garden with adequate watering.
Common Milkweed will grow almost anywhere that you plant it, but can commonly be found growing in fields or along the highway.
Butterfly Weed will grow almost anywhere as well, but prefers dry areas like fields or garden settings with little watering required.
So next spring when you are trying to decide what plants to put in your garden or landscaping, please choose native plant species. They are natives for a reason and have adapted to the harsh Michigan climates to grow optimally. If you would like to purchase Milkweed seeds to start your own Monarch habitat or for more information on the Monarch population status please click here to read a great article! Contact the Michigan Native Plant Producer to get great plants.