What is it about butterflies that we love? Their colors and patterns are striking, they fly elegantly in the air and drink nectar from colorful flowers. Not only do they bring a lot of joy, pollinators are an important part of our ecosystem. They pollinate flowers and food, and they are a building block of the food chain.
Who are the Pollinators?
Pollinators include butterflies, but also other insects: bees, beetles, flies, moths, and even animals: hummingbirds and bats. The abundant use of pesticides and loss of habitat has caused pollinator populations to decline rapidly. This decline has created the need for humans to pollinate food with their own hands in some parts of the world.
Habitat loss is attributed to agriculture and land development. Most US farms are large scale monoculture landscapes where nothing else is grown except for one or two crops, or animals for meat. Crops like corn, soybean, and wheat are pollinated by wind, so farmers don’t place importance on pollinators. Therefore, these large scale farms are flowerless landscapes.
Lawns are also flowerless landscapes.
A landscape can be full of flowers, but if these are non-native flowers, they still don’t necessarily provide the habitat pollinators need. Pollinators need our help and it begins with planting native plants.
You Can Help Pollinators
Pollinator efforts are being undertaken by conscious landowners who are willing to create habitat on their land. Habitat can be created whether you live on 0.33 acre suburban lot or live on a 10 acre small farm. It doesn’t matter the size of garden space you have; all you need is an assortment of native plants, including milkweed.
Monarch butterflies can only survive if they have milkweed. This is the only plant the caterpillars can eat to grow in butterflies. Monarchs have received much recognition because their numbers are declining on a large scale. However, the monarch has become the ‘spokesbutterfly’ of pollinators. All pollinators are seeing a rapid loss in populations. This is due to loss of habitat and use of pesticides.
Pollinators need nectar, pollen, and foliage from native plants. Native plants leaves are food sources for caterpillars. These plants are considered ‘host plants’. A bit of water in summer and habitat for winter is all else pollinators need.
Having a monarch waystation is fun and makes your garden a magical place. If you have the right plants in your garden, vow to not use pesticides, and a do a few other things, your garden can become a registered Monarch Waystation through Monarch Watch or Certified Wildlife Habitat through the National Wildlife Federation. You can then purchase a metal sign to display in the garden to tell others what the garden means.
EARTHeim Ecological Landscape Design
I specialize in creating ecological landscapes, and I love transforming spaces into native plant gardens. Many of my clients had flowerless landscapes. After transforming their garden into one with native plants, they became hooked and wanted more! They have enjoyed seeing the monarch butterflies and caterpillars in their gardens.
Watch the EARTHeim movie about Monarch Caterpillars on YouTube
It’s also fun to see your Monarch Waystation develop as it goes from an idea, to being installed, and then to grow and mature. When you plant native plant gardens, you’ll begin seeing new species of butterflies and birds. Your garden goes from a living sculpture garden to an interactive place full of life. It leaves you with a new perspective and the excitement of doing something beneficial.
A Monarch Waystation can be put anywhere as long as it meets certain requirements. Monarch Waystations are especially fun for kids and community garden spaces. Pollinator gardens are beautiful and can be designed to fit with your style and taste whether it’s whimsy, traditional, or modern.
EARTHeim Landscape Design Studio specializes in native plants and creating wildlife and pollinator gardens. We can help you turn your home or community space into a certified Monarch Waystation in Lexington, Kentucky and surrounding areas.