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Native Butterflies and Insects

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Life + Learning

  • Monarch butterflies flying around a tree
  • Monarch butterflies flying around a tree
  • Monarch butterflies on a tree

Anne, Old Post Office | March 1, 2020

It's March and thoughts are wandering towards green plants, bird song, warm breeze...and maybe if you're into that sort of thing...the earliest butterfly of the year, a mourning cloak. Native insect abundance is a major indicator of the state of our ecosystems, so it’s a relief to see them in spring. A study published last year revealed the current rapid decline of insects worldwide. It’s easy to feel concerned. So, here are some positive things happening, and what you can do to make an impact!

The Old Post Office has a Green Roof on the second floor, installed and maintained by Green Roof Ginko Sustainability Inc. Living roof systems, it benefits insects by creating urban habitats that otherwise wouldn’t exist. Last summer it was alive with bees, dragonflies, damselflies and butterflies. Be sure to check it out in time for the spring bloom!

Consider planting your own pollinator garden this spring to help insects. Join us at the Old Post Office on March 4 for Taking Flight: Butterflies at Rare and Beyond to learn about Rare’s local butterfly monitoring program, the amazing monarch migration, and to take home a seed packet of the monarch butterflies host plant, common milkweed.

Start with your milkweed seed packet, and pick up a few more native varieties from the Preston Idea Exchange Seed Library.  You can re-wild your yard by planting native instead of imported species. These books will get you started: The New Ontario Naturalized Garden:  The Complete Guide to using Native Plants , or 100 easy-to-grow Native Plants for Canadian Gardens.

It’s amazing to see how alive my milkweed patch is with insects compared to nearby non-native plants. Monarchs frequently lay eggs and I help many to reach their adult stage. The children in my family found special wonder in the process, even bringing a chrysalis to school to share a successful release. Would you like to try it this coming season? Carol Pasternaks’s How to Raise Monarch Butterflies shows you how.