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Local Girl Scout Troop To Build Shelter for Migratory Butterflies

Goleta Girl Scout troop 50853 is partnering with the Devereux Foundation to plant a sustainable Monarch Waystation for migrating butterflies tomorrow at 9 a.m. at Isla Vista Elementary School.

Devereux California, a treatment facility for adults with disabilities, will provide the necessary plants and guidance through its horticulture program. The completed site will be a scientific center that provides educational opportunities for the students of I.V. Elementary.

According to Goleta’s Monarch Docent Coordinator Jessica Haro, monarch butterf lies historically travel south from Marin County to Northern Baja while seeking shelter and food as they fly.

“[Butterfly preservation projects] are very important because the only plant where monarch butterflies lay their eggs — and, in turn, the only food source for monarch caterpillars — is milkweed,” Haro said. “Without milkweed we can’t have the new generation of monarchs, so that’s really critical to supporting the monarch population.”

This year marks the centennial anniversary of both Devereux California and the Girl Scouts, and troop leader Kathleen Clancy said the girls had a special idea to celebrate the occasion. “This year we realized that it was the hundredth anniversary of Girl Scouts, and they had really enjoyed the butterflies and the idea of supporting the monarch colony, so they decided to do a hundred butterfly plants,” Clancy said.

Haro said projects such as these are critical for the regeneration of dwindling monarch butterfly populations in California.

“There has been a general decline in the [monarch] population throughout the state,” Haro said. “One of the theories about that is a decline in the milkweed population either from drought or manmade habitat construction.”

According to UCSB environmental studies professor Joshua Schimel, the project will be a valuable educational experience for the volunteers and a picturesque reminder of the importance of conservation.

“Every little effort that gets people thinking is great,” Schimel said.

Clancy said the Waystation gives the girls a positive outlook on the effect that they could have on the environment around them.

“It’s nice to see these ten-year-old girls [being] empowered and understanding that even though they’re kids, they get to change the world,” Clancy said. “They get to provide for these creatures that go and pollinate our plants and see how the butterfly’s life extends beyond itself. They really like that idea.”

All interested members of the community are welcome to attend and contribute to the planting event.

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One Response to Local Girl Scout Troop To Build Shelter for Migratory Butterflies

  1. Paul Cherubini

    October 5, 2012 at 9:36 am

    Projects like these will not help maintain the migratory monarch population in any mathematically valid way because the rate of milkweed breeding habitat destruction due to ongoing sprawl and more intensive weed control practices on farmland, pastures and roadsides outpaces the rate of milkweed breeding habitat creation by a factor of very roughly 10,000 to 1.

    Therefore students are actually being misinformed if they plant 100 milkweed and/or nectar plants at the school for monarchs and believe their effort will help mitigate the overall rate of milkweed breeding habitat destruction and the associated rate of western monarch population decline.

    Paul Cherubini
    Entomologist and Monarch Specialist