On May 10, we welcomed several new creatures to our family at the aviary.
Thanks to a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the partnership between seven Oklahoma tribes, 100 painted lady butterflies were released and caterpillars were given away to participants in order to encourage habitat restoration for monarchs in Oklahoma.
We also planted 2,500 milkweed plants on aviary grounds in an effort to establish habitat restoration for monarch butterflies on their migration path from Central Mexico to the Great Lakes.
In the past 20 years, the North American monarch population has decreased from 1 billion to fewer than 60 million. One of the plans to combat this devastating drop in population is to plant more milkweed plants on their migration route, so they can lay their eggs as they pass through Oklahoma in the spring and fall. Milkweed is the only thing a monarch caterpillar can eat to survive.
Each of the seven tribes, which include Citizen Potawatomi, Miami, Osage, Muscogee (Creek), Seminole, Chickasaw and Eastern Shawnee, have pledged to plant at least 2,500 milkweed plants on tribal property and another 2,500 the following year. The first of those 2,500 were planted at the Aviary on May 10.
This grant also funds the planting of other native plants in upcoming years and the training of Oklahoma residents and Native youth to do their part to recreate the monarch habitats.
Monarch Watch Director Dr. Chip Taylor and Euchee Butterfly Farm Director Jane Breckenridge were at the aviary to plant alongside other CPN employees, tribal members and representatives from other nations. It was great to see all that they are doing to increase the monarch population and encourage others to do the same.
In the future, we plan to offer milkweed to tribal members to plant in their yards or outdoor planters.
Jennifer Randall, Aviary Manager