Help monarchs, kick off ‘National Pollinator Week’

Courtesy of Wisconsin DATCP
Courtesy of Wisconsin DATCP(NBC15)
Published: Jun. 14, 2019 at 3:55 PM CDT
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National Pollinator Week is a time to celebrate pollinators and spread the word about what you can do to protect them, according to the City of Madison in a press release on Friday afternoon.

With declining pollinator populations — as part of National Pollinator Week from June 17-23 — the City of Madison Engineering and Parks Divisions is reminding the community of the importance of Monarch butterflies, other pollinators and proper pollinator habitat management.

The monarch butterfly population has decreased drastically in the last few decades because they can only lay eggs on milkweed plants. Milkweed grows on medians, edges of parking lots, managed meadows, native no mows, gardens and swampy areas.

Unfortunately, there has been significant loss of the milkweed plants, according to the National Park Service.

Managed meadow, no mow prairies and other weedy areas provide good conditions for milkweed to thrive.

These are prime areas for invasive species, such as wild parsnip and Canadian thistle.

Invasive or noxious weed species left unchecked will prevent milkweed and other native species beneficial to pollinators from establishing and spreading in an area. Strategic mowing is often necessary for managing these areas.

While some mowing may stimulate milkweed growth and provide fresh plants for egg laying that is preferred by monarchs, too frequent or improperly timed mowing can harm the population growth.

The city is working to minimize its mowing impact on the monarchs in these areas with properly timed mowing. The Engineering and Parks Divisions mow managed meadow and no mow prairie areas annually or biannually and manage invasive species as needed.

Throughout the summer, Engineering and Parks spot mow areas of invasive noxious species with an emphasis on preserving habitat that is key to pollinator survival.

Pollination happens when pollen grains are moved between two flowers of the same species by wind or animals. Successful pollination results in the production of healthy fruit and fertile seeds, allowing plants to reproduce.

Without pollinators like bees, flies, moths, butterflies and some species of birds, we wouldn’t have these crops.

The Engineering Division owns 1,200 acres of land. The Madison Parks Division owns more than 5,700 acres. 

What you can do for the pollinators:

- Create a pollinator-friendly garden habitat.

- Design your garden so there is a continuous succession of plants flowering from spring through fall.

- Plant native to your region using plants that provide nectar for adults plus food for insect larvae, such as milkweed for monarchs.

- Avoid pesticides.

- Supply water for all wildlife.

- Provide water for butterflies without letting it become a mosquito breeding area.

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