Monarch Butterfly

The Oromocto River Watershed Association is a non profit organization dedicated to preserve and protect the watershed environment and all manner of habitat which affects all life, including human.

The Oromocto Watershed recognizes the need to educate the public on how they can become partners and participate in saving and protecting their environment.

In our education curriculum, the environment is becoming a major subject being taught in our schools today. Classroom study when combined with hands on environmental projects achieves the highest level of comprehension and learning.

The Oromocto Watershed Association believes that environmental education should be taken to another level and that is the “Action Learning Level”. We further believe that this “Action Learning Level” should relate to improving the environment in our local communities.

The question: What projects could our association recommend to the Department of Education that would have maximum impact on the students, the school, and the community, the district, the province and the world?

Could there be a project where school children would be the foundation for the end-all success of the project and be recognized as such? Our Watershed Association believes that there is such a project.

The Monarch Butterfly is seen in every yard and garden in Canada in the summer, they are one of Nature’s most beautiful species. Their migration story from Mexico to Canada and back each year is exceptional. Of the estimated 2 billion species on earth, no other species takes four generations to complete a single migration effort and has the great grand father or mother fly the entire migration route of 3,000 km back to Mexico to the same forest, to the same tree, to the same limb. Millions gather in great clusters to sustain themselves through the Mexican winter. It is one of the most amazing stories in nature; science cannot understand how travel information is passed on to the next generations of Monarch Butterflies that is four generations ahead.

The Monarch Butterfly population has been dramatically declining over the last few decades and have reached a point now where the species is at risk of survival.

There are many reasons why the Monarchs are declining:

  1. Habitat loss in Mexico due to de forestation in their wintering grounds.
  2. Storms and bad weather take their toll.
  3. * Loss of nursery habitat.

 
It is the loss of nursery habitat that is having a most serious affect on Monarch’s survival.

The Monarch will only lay its eggs on the milkweed plant. From egg to caterpillar; the caterpillar then feeds its entire life on the toxic milkweed leaves. Eventually, the caterpillar builds a chorionic housing around itself and in a short time is transformed into a most beautiful butterfly. Another miracle of nature!

The milkweed’s toxicity is carried into the butterfly and yields a bitter taste to any predator, so much so, that they are deterred from making a meal on another Monarch. The Monarch owes its survival to the milkweed, without it there would be no Monarchs.

Milkweed is disappearing all over North America very rapidly, primarily due to human development and a lack of understanding of its importance in sustaining a species.

We mow our highway ditches, back yards and fields not knowing that we are eliminating precious survival habitat. The milkweed is actually a beautiful flowering plant of about 4 feet in height with fragrance most pleasant. It is easily grown in about any soil; it requires little or no maintenance. It would be a compliment to any flower garden or municipal planting arrangement.

The need to establish milkweed way stations is imperative if we are to save this species. The task seems so simple, just plant seeds in and around every community in North America. It is that easy!

This is where school children will “Save a Species. School children will first learn about the plight of the Monarch Butterfly and learn in the environmental class room setting, the magic, mystery and beauty of one of earth’s special species.

The students will take the project to the Action Learning Level:

Whereas:

  • Students will be given seed packages to take home and around their community.
  • The seed packages will have the title “School Children Save an Endangered Species, The Monarch Butterfly”
  • The students can use this endeavor as a major fund raiser for school.

 
Our Watershed Association believes the project will be easily adopted by local schools, but, we are looking at a much larger picture. It is our hope that this program “School Children Save an Endangered Species “will be passed to other schools in the district and from there to most districts in the province of New Brunswick. From this Province to the rest of the provinces in Canada and finally adopted by every state in the United States. Therefore, ensuring survival of this species by creating milkweed way stations from Canada to Mexico.
 
What a story to tell; that school children of North America worked together to save a species.