Earlier this year the Butterfly Meadow was cleared of invasive Autumn Olive and Sunday's outing was to plant two species of Milkweed in an effort to attract Monarch butterflies. A total of nearly 150 Asclepias Incarnata and A. Syriaca (Swamp and Common Milkweed) were planted in the Meadow and elsewhere in the Preserve. The Milkweed is the sole host plant for the Monarch's larval stage and the dramatic decline in the Monarch's population is due to a number of factors including decimation of habitat and eradication of the Milkweed along the path of the Monarch's eastern migratory pattern. This butterfly overwinters in Mexico and covers thousands of miles in this annual movement. A remarkable aspect of this migration is that it takes up to three generations of butterflies to make the trip to the north-eastern US, with each generation living for 2 to 6 weeks. On the return trip the fourth generation has a life of up to 9 months allowing the trip south to be accomplished in one generation - another of Mother Nature's miracles.
The plants were made available through a grant from the Natural Resources Defense Council administered by Monarch Watch.