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Butterfly program at Hagerstown park

By Staff | Apr 15, 2016

The Monarch Alliance, with the support of the Potomac Valley Audubon Society, will hold a Monarch Butterfly educational program on Saturday, April 30, at the City of Hagerstown’s newest park, Kiwanis Park. The program will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., right after an 11 a.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially open the park.

The butterfly education program will be a free, family-friendly event and everyone is welcome. It will provide homeowners with practical information about steps they can take to help attract and sustain Monarch Butterflies, which are a species in decline.

These steps include planting butterfly gardens with milkweed plants that give Monarchs important habitat during their annual migration. These plantings can be an excellent educational opportunity for families with children. They can be registered as “Monarch Waystations” with the Monarch Watch organization, and they also attract other butterflies, pollinating insects and hummingbirds.

There will be children’s activities, including face painting, free gift bags for children and children’s books for sale, including “Monarch Come Play With Me,” by naturalist Ba Rea.

The Kiwanis Club of Hagerstown will be supplying refreshments.

Last fall, the Monarch Alliance, working with the City of Hagerstown, the Kiwanis Club, and the Soil Conservation District of Washington County installed a Monarch Waystation at the Kiwanis Park.

Each year, the Monarch Butterfly leaves its wintering grounds in central Mexico flying north in search of milkweed, the Monarch’s sole host plant. Its first stop is Texas. Subsequent generations continue to move north in search of milkweed moving as far north as the northern United States and southern Canada. The fourth generation each year enters “reproductive diapause” before heading south on a journey of over 2000 miles to the wintering grounds in central Mexico. The following spring, that wintering population will head north to Texas, starting the annual cycle anew. There is no migration like the Monarch’s in the entire animal kingdom.

The Monarch Butterfly has been in serious decline as a result of human and environmental pressure ever since its wintering site in central Mexico was discovered in the mid-1970s. The pressures it faces include overuse of herbicides and pesticides, drought, disease, poaching of the Oyamel Fir tree in Mexico and other causes.

In the winter of 2014-15, the Monarch’s wintering population was estimated at less than 5 percent of its historical numbers. Recently, Lincoln Brower, a noted Monarch Butterfly researcher, the Xerces Society, and others have filed a petition to review the butterfly under the Endangered Species Act.

For further information about the event, contact Sandy Sagalkin at sandy.sagalkin@gmail.com or 240-291-6465, or Dave Kaplan at janandavek@verizon.net or 301-331-5270.

For more about Monarch butterflies go to www.monarchwatch.org. For more about the city of Hagerstown’s parks go to www.hagerstownmd.org/index.aspx?NID+145.