Milkweed for Monarchs Day
A few months ago Mayor Sly James added a new bowtie to his collection—one that resembles a monarch butterfly. The National Wildlife Federation presented the orange and black tie after James announced a pledge to bring awareness and support for increasing monarch habitat throughout Kansas City by joining a native plant initiative. More than 20 regional organizations have banded together for this initiative which was awarded a $230,000 grant from the federation.
The City is using part of the grant money to install a new bed in front of the Garden Center in Loose Park, says Terry Rynard, deputy director of the Parks and Recreation Department.
And on Wednesday, June 1st, the Mayor is taking this pledge to increase monarch and pollinator habitat one step further, by proclaiming “Milkweed for Monarchs Day” in Kansas City.
“Kansas City has already completed most of the monarch pledge actions,” said Mayor James. “Our city has a strong commitment to natural ecosystems, and many groups working on the problem. But we still need every citizen to plant.” While milkweed is necessary for monarch caterpillars to feed, the butterflies need a sequence of bloom from other plants, such as purple coneflower, asters, liatris and goldenrod, all available at local nurseries.
“This is a big shift from the formal—and mostly annual—plantings that it will replace,” she says, adding that future plans for City parks and boulevards will be reviewed for how they might better attract monarchs and other pollinators. Rynard notes that monarch populations have declined due to the loss of their host plant, milkweed, through development and herbicide-resistant crops. Kansas City hosts four generations of monarch butterflies each year. The last generation, reaching adulthood in September, is the super generation that migrates to Mexico for the winter and then moves back north in the spring, laying eggs for the first generation of the following year.
The Kansas City Parks Department also maintains butterfly garden at Ilus Davis Park north of City Hall, 414 E. 12th St., and a pollinator patch in front of the Lakeside Nature Center in Swope Park, 4701 E. Gregory Blvd. Plantings of bee balm, catmint, prairie clover, thyme, coreopsis, mallow and aromatic aster attract butterflies as well as bees, wasps and other beneficial bugs.
View a list of other pollinator and native plantings throughout the city.
Some of the groups the City is collaborating with include Burroughs Audubon of Greater Kansas City, Bridging the Gap, Johnson County Parks, Missouri Department of Transportation, Kansas City Power and Light, Grow Native, the Westport Garden Club and Powell Gardens.
To find milkweed or native plants in your area, visit GrowNative.org.