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The Monarch Butterfly Project

Monarch by Ray Testa

Monarch Butterfly by Raymond Testa of Royse City.

(ROCKWALL, TX – Aug. 26, 2019) Join the Rockwall County Monarch Butterfly Project Team and help save the spectacular butterfly from extinction.

Monarchs, the official Texas State Insect, are in grave danger of disappearing from our skies; their population has dropped 90 percent in the last 20 years.

Sad because Monarchs make our world more colorful, but they do so much more. They pollinate flowers, eat weedy plants and provide a food source for other animals. They also make wonderful subjects for beautiful paintings and photos!

Bob DeJean

Bob DeJean

Bob DeJean, a member of the Rockwall County Open Space Alliance Board of Directors, has taken on the job of restoring the Monarch population here by working with the Alliance and its volunteers. Their first effort is a booth at the Aspasians Marketplace on Saturday, Sept. 14. Volunteers will share information about the Monarch Project and discuss how to help save this vanishing insect.

On Saturday, Sept. 21, the Alliance has scheduled a presentation for all ages at the Rockwall County Library, discussing the importance of nectar plants for food and native milkweed habitat for reproduction. The presentation will be followed by a planting demo.

Monarchs travel back and forth from southern Canada to central Mexico each Spring and Fall, flying through Texas. However, they must reproduce along the way, so the butterflies that start the journey are not the ones that complete the 3,000-mile migration trip. It takes three or four generations to do that – and they need food and special plants to reproduce along the way to reach their destination.

“We need help in keeping this treasured butterfly from becoming extinct,” said DeJean. “Monarchs may have special needs, but these beautiful creatures are certainly worth the effort.”

Growing up in an area with a lot of open space, DeJean had an interest in nature as a young boy. Driving his kids to school in the ‘70s and ‘80s, he and his wife Patsy would see large swarms of Monarchs migrating across the road, but “by the time the kids were in senior high, we stopped seeing them,” he noted.

Curious about what happened, they learned that the Monarchs’ breeding grounds in Texas and middle America were being destroyed and poisoned to grow crops, and their wintering grounds in Mexico were being destroyed to plant avocado trees. The family’s concern turned into action when they moved to Rockwall County 10 years ago with enough land to begin their project to restore and preserve the magnificent little creatures so other families could share in the joy of Monarchs.

“Anyone can do this even on the smallest urban property,” he explained. “I just hope everyone will join our efforts.”

If you want to help the Monarch Butterfly Project Team, the Alliance website rockwallosa.org lists Volunteer Opportunities. For more information, email information@rockwallosa.org.

You can also:

  • Plant nectar and milkweed plants using only native milkweed;
  • Avoid pesticides, which can kill any one of the four-stages of the Monarch;
  • Create a Monarch Way Station (org.) There are only two in Rockwall County, but dozens in neighboring counties. The station can even be in a backyard garden.
  • Help spread the word! Urge friends and neighbors to join you in this worthwhile project.
  • Join Monarch support organizations.

Please join the Alliance, Rockwall Mayor Jim Pruitt and former Heath Mayor Brian Berry in signing the Monarch Butterfly Pledge.  A program of the National Wildlife Federation commits the mayors and their cities to create a habitat for the Monarchs along with other very important pollinators. It also educates citizens about how they can make a difference at home in their communities.

By Judy Evans, Rockwall County Open Space Alliance.

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