Become A Monarch Resort Entrepreneur
This is our last installment of May is for Monarchs. Last week we learned about how tough being on the road can be when you don't have a well-developed highway. This week we'll learn what it takes to open up our own roadside oasis for monarchs traveling the Monarch Highway. Before diving in, we have a little update from the federal government.
Remember in Part 1 when we mentioned the Presidential Memoradum promoting pollinator health issued last June? Well we have an update. On May 19, the EPA and USDA Task force released it's Strategy To Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators, (that includes the monarch) along with it's Pollinator Research Action Plan.
One goal of the Federal Action Plan is to:
"Increase the Eastern population of the monarch butterfly to 225 million butterflies occupying an area of approximately 15 acres (6 hectares) in the overwintering grounds in Mexico, through domestic/international actions and public-private partnerships, by 2020."
The Federal Strategy includes this on monarchs:
"EPA has determined that the protection of milkweed is consistent with its responsibilities under FIFRA and that it will take actions, as part of its regulatory decisions and voluntary programs, to establish practices and requirements to protect critical milkweed resources. EPA will issue for public comment a draft framework outlining an approach it intends to take to protect monarch butterflies."
Maybe we were a bit harsh in Part 1 saying we weren't going to wait around for the government. Or maybe not. Time will tell. Anyway, back to our story.
Like we said earlier, no milkweed = no monarchs. That's pretty simple. So what can we do? Plant more milkweeds? Yes, that's a start. That's the caterpillar B&B. But we also learned in week two's episode that adult monarchs like a good well-rounded hangout. That's when they can really kick back and relax.
Monarchs Enjoy A Little TLC Too
Think of it as a resort. Imagine being in a peaceful locale, sun is shining, you have a beautiful room, the view is great, and the waiter brings you whatever you want. Then the sun dips behind clouds and the wind picks up. Oh lord; there goes your vacation. But wait, that handsome waiter has the answer. He shuttles you inside, out from the gusts and hands you a cocktail and snacks. All is well once again in your world.
The Monarch Resort
It's pretty much the same for the monarch. Food, water, shelter, and you're that handsome waiter for the most part. I see in your monarch resort birdbaths or water fountains. Now you've got cocktail hour covered. The B&B? No problem. You're a developer and you've got a nice selection of fine milkweed establishments just waiting to be rented. Shelter? Now there's something to consider. You want a windbreak, now that could be some shrubs, smaller over story trees, maybe a fence, or a secluded backyard. There it is. Yes, shelter is set. Check. Now for dinner, where's the chef?
You recall the monarch's fondness for a "Farm to Table" affair. Anything in season and fresh is in order. That means you need a skilled chef and one that makes sure all weeks in the travel season are covered. With a little planning you manage to cover all bases and keep something in flower between the months of May through September. Score! You are now a monarch resort entrepreneur.
For a menu selection I'd like to offer up the Distinctive Gardens Monarch Habitat cuisine. It features B&B plants as well as monarch snacks and full meals.
Below find a menu of nectar plants and some pretty cool resources I found online.
The following list of plants makes for great monarch munchies.
Thanks for following along on our May is for Monarch series. We hope you had fun and learned something too!
Common Nectar Plants
Aster (Aster spp.)
Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
Blazing Stars (Liatris spp.)
Butterfly Bush (Buddleia spp.)
Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)
Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)
Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)
Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea)
Coreopsis (Coreopsis spp.)
Cosmos (Cosmos spp.)
Dianthus Family (Dianthus spp.)
Lantana (Lantana camara)
Marigold (Tagetes spp.)
Mexican Sunflowers (Tithonia rotundifolia)
Petunia (Petunia x hybrida)
Salvia (Salvia spp.)
Shasta Daisy (Leucanthemum spp.)
Sunflower (Helianthus spp.)
Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)
Swamp Verbena (Verbena hastata)
Tall Verbena (Verbena bonariensis)
Thistle (Cirsium discolor)
Violet (Viola spp. )
Woodland Stonecrop (Sedum ternatum)
Yarrow (Achillea spp.)
Zinnia (Zinnia elegans)
Passion Flowers (Passiflora spp.)
Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus-castus)
Flowering Dogwood (Cornus)
Distinctive Gardens Monarch Habitat plant list provides a list of both host plants and nectar plants good for our area. You can find it by either clicking on the link, picture, or by going to the Distinctive Gardens Plant Catalog and clicking on the Tag: "Monarch Habitat"
I just love this site, Monarch Joint Venture. It appears to pull together all the major players who are interested and involved in monarch conservation. There is a lot of great information on this site.
MonarchWatch.org has a nifty section where you can certify your garden as a Monarch Waystation.
I really like this pollinator guide. It goes into good detail on habitat and what plants make for great pollinator habitat in our area.
Bee Smart Pollinator Gardener is a pretty neat app that provides Nectar Plant suggestions by zip code. There is a version for both iPhones and Androids.