MTRI is a non-profit co-operative with a mandate to promote sustainable use of natural resources and biodiversity conservation in the Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve and beyond through research, education, and the operation of a field station.
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This summer we are working to plant over 1000 swamp milkweed plants across Nova Scotia to help provide habitat and recover Monarch butterfly populations!
If you are not already a member of our Butterfly Club continue reading to find out how you can become involved! If you are a member, additional milkweed can be purchased through MTRI today for just $4 a pot to increase habitat in your area!
Note: To sign up for the butterfly club, call 902-682-2371 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and speak with our Butterfly Club Coordinator! A kit will be arranged for you to receive at your convienence. Your membership does not expire.
The Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) is sometimes known as "the storm king" because it often most active during a storm. Its latin names means "sleepy transformation" in English, which symbolizes its ability to hibernate in Mexico, and metamorphose throughout North America. It is called the "Monarch" because of the golden ridge around its chrysalis. Below you'll find a page from the "Species at Risk in Nova Scotia: Identification and Information Guide", which describes the Monarch to a T. Click a page to see a high resolution version.
For full resolution pdf versions of these images, check out www.speciesatrisk.ca/SARGuide
There are two kinds of Milkweed living in Nova Scotia: 1) Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), and 2) Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata). The first, Common Milkweed, is a "noxious weed" in Nova Scotia. It can be harmful to livestock, although cows usually avoid it and watchful farmers can keep it from proliferating in a field. The second, Swamp Milkweed, usually lives only along wet and sunny areas. They have bright green lance-shaped leaves and purple flowers in the summer, and pointed seed pods with fluffy white parachutes in the fall. Swamp milkweed plants can grow to be six feet tall!
Both types of Milkweed are the preferred food plant of Monarch Caterpillars. Adults will lay their eggs on milkweed leaves, and the larvae (which hatch from the egg a few days after being laid) will feed on the leaves. There is a certain poison (a "glycoside") that is present in the leaves, which the caterpillar can tolerate. Because the poison builds up in their bodies, any birds that eat them will get sick! This way, birds learn to avoid eating monarch caterpillars and adults!
Unfortunately, since farmers throughout North America have been applying herbicides to eliminate Milkweed from their fields, Monarchs are running out of their favourite food plant, which protects them from predation.
Stewardship biologists at MTRI and Parks Canada created the "Butterfly Club" to encourange local people to grow gardens with swamp milkweed, a non-noxious weed, that is beneficial to Monarch Butterflies. Every little bit counts. When you join, members have to sign an agreement that gardens will only be grown further than 20m from major roads (to avoid road-kill), and that pesticides and herbicides will not be used (to avoid harm to insects).
If you have never joined the "Butterfly Club" before, your first package will include: 1) a volunteer profile card (which you need to return to us upon purchase, so we can remember who is growing butterfly gardens where), 2) a butterfly club description, including suggested plants for your garden, 3) a card describing which butterflies you might see and how to plant your garden, 4) a membership card & number, 5) a beautiful butterfly postcard, and 6) either two swamp-milkweed plants, a packet of seeds or a sign for your garden.
If you are already a member of the "Butterfly Club", you can always purchase more swamp milkweed plants. Additionally, we hope to garner discounts at local nursaries where you can buy local, native, butterfly plants.
The charge to join the club is only $10, which covers the cost of the materials used to produce the club kits, and which supports MTRI's "Butterfly Club" program, in addition to local organic farmers.
Contact MTRI for more information, and stay tuned for more updates!
Check out the map of the Butterfly Club gardens throughout the maritimes! Over 1000 gardens have been planted as of 2014!
Butterfly Club members and butterfly enthusiasts can share stories and pictures with one another now on the Butterfly Club page on Facebook. We encourage everyone to join by searching "Butterfly Club" or by visting www.facebook.com/MonarchButterflyClub and clicking on "like" in the top right corner. Are you interested in joining the Butterfly Club and creating habitat for the Monarch on your property or in your community? If yes, please call 682-2371 to get started.
The Maritimes Butterfly Atlas: http://www.accdc.com/mba/index-mba.htm
Below are a couple links to YouTube videos of a monarch going into and coming out of its chyrsalis! Many thanks to Arthur Tanner for sharing his videos with us!