Mason City nature center launches website for monarchs and pollinators

#gardens #Mason city #urban wildlife

The Lime Creek Nature Center has created a website to assist citizens with planting gardens to provide habitat for monarch butterflies and other pollinator species. According to Todd Von Ehwegen, conservation education manager at the nature center, is designed to provide all of the information necessary for people to plant gardens that will benefit pollinators.

“What to plant, where to get it and how to maintain it are all on the website,” Von Ehwegen said. “In addition, citizens can register their gardens on the site and receive an attractive sign to identify their planting as a Monarch Mania garden. There are also an informational blog and a gardens gallery for people to share photos and videos of their gardens.”

The monarch butterfly, once common across the countryside and in everyone’s backyards, has decreased 90 percent in numbers since the 1990s. A drastic reduction in milkweed plants, especially in the very important monarch breeding grounds of the Midwest, is believed to be one of the main causes for this decline.

In addition, many other pollinator species such as bumblebees and honey bees are declining. Because these pollinators are a very important component of our food supply their declining numbers are of great concern.

 The goal of the Monarch Mania program is to assist citizens, schools, businesses and communities with planting native milkweeds and wildflowers on their properties to provide critical habitat and help turn the tide for monarchs and pollinators.

Components of the program include the website, instructional programs and expert guest speakers as well as financial assistance to schools for planting pollinator gardens.

The program is funded by the Maxine Sanberg Memorial Fund. Sanberg was a long-time volunteer, nature center board member and strong supporter of the Lime Creek Nature Center.

“Restoring a struggling wildlife species almost always starts with restoring their habitat,” Von Ehwegen said. “Establishing milkweed and pollinator plant gardens in backyards and fields throughout the Midwest will make a huge impact in reversing the alarming decline of our beloved monarchs and pollinator species.”