How do they do it? Monarch butterflies capture our imagination as they flit and glide among wildflowers, backyards, and parks. We dream of childhood and warm summer days as they dance through the skies.
Yet, their dance has a purpose. Adult monarch butterflies are making an incredible, 3,000-mile journey south to the mountains of Central Mexico. There they will stay, gathered in colonies of millions, waiting for warm spring days. When warmer days do come, the monarchs will awake from hibernation to begin their migration journey north. But these winter survivors won’t make the full journey. It takes several generations of monarchs to fly north, find good habitat, lay eggs, and let the next generation carry on.
Discover all things monarch and celebrate their amazing lives at Monarch Madness: A Pollinator Festival from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 15 at the Weldon Spring Site in St. Charles, Missouri. The event is free and open to all! Enjoy kids’ crafts, games, exhibitors, native garden tours, butterfly tagging, food trucks, music and more. You can even purchase native plants that attract pollinators and pick up a monarch butterfly passport at the event! You’ll get a free gift when you visit each passport station to learn about a monarch’s journey and life cycle.
The event is hosted by the Weldon Spring Site, which is managed by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Legacy Management (LM); Missourians for Monarchs; St. Charles County Parks and Recreation; Missouri Department of Conservation; Missouri Master Naturalists; Missouri Master Gardeners, Great Rivers Greenway (GRG), North American Butterfly Association, Ameren and the US Department of Energy Office of Legacy Management (LM).
“Monarch butterflies need us” says Judy Meixner, Missourians for Monarchs event coordinator. “The habitat of all pollinators has been dwindling each year, making survival very tough.” It’s estimated that in the last 21 years, monarch populations have declined more than 80 percent from historic levels. Meixner says that “this icon of summer in the Midwest may be gone if we don’t act!”
“This will be the third year the event will occur at the Weldon Spring Site. The site has gone through an amazing transformation with restoration to native prairie, which is what monarchs need to survive” stated Meixner.
The Weldon Spring Site was once home to World War II and Cold War-era factories. Today, the site preserves the legacy of the people and site operations that contributed to those wars, the subsequent environmental contamination, and also chronicles the environmental cleanup with restoration to native prairie. LM, the site steward, implements a long-term surveillance and maintenance plan that includes an Interpretive Center and 41-acre disposal cell.
“Monarch restoration needs success stories like that of the Weldon Spring Site. Everyone can contribute in making a real difference in monarch survival with even just a few native plants at home” says Meixner.