Birds and Wildlife

Monarch butterfly project

This committee works for the preservation and public education of birds and/or wildlife on the island.  

This committee is currently chaired by Mary Stevens.

Presently we are working on The Monarch Butterfly Project which was established in 2016 with two goals in mind: to have sustainable breeding stations and to bring public awareness to the monarchs’ plight.  Breeding stations, informational flyers and a milkweed garden are a few of the committee’s initiatives.  Presently we have 12 mini breeding stations located with members and establishments and we have been releasing monarchs daily!  Our future projects include a butterfly and pollinator garden by the new pavilion in Barnegat Light, that will be planted in September.   We plan on holding a workshop in June where members will be able to plant their own pots to encourage butterfly breeding and be given instructions on how to raise the monarchs.  The recently completed Forsyth Nature Preserve at the entrance to our Island is a beautiful “Welcome to LBI” addition and we hope to add something to that wonderful environment as well.

The Birds and Wildlife Committee did a little research and found that butterfly decline is not limited to just LBI,  Monarch numbers have dropped ninety percent in the last twenty years and this black and orange beauty is now facing extinction. The reason? Pesticides, herbicides and loss of habitat.

It wasn’t that long ago that our members recall seeing thousand of Monarch butterflies stopping on Long Beach Island to feed and rest during their migration to Mexico. In recent years, however, their scarcity has been not only notable, but alarming.

BIRDS AND WILDLIFE 2019 UPDATE

We are setting the bar high for another exciting and prolific monarch season. As you all know by now our beautiful friends will need milkweed to lay their eggs and to feed off of throughout the season. We encourage you to plant a monarch friendly garden including pesticide-free milkweed and nectar sources whether it be in your garden or in a container. Our committee sponsored a workshop in June. We had 16 pots for planting along with milkweed and various butterfly friendly flowers. Information was handed out on how to raise monarchs. This project was  intended for the serious butterfly enthusiast. We will help you plant the container and even deliver it to you – in exchange we want you to care for any caterpillars till they can be released or to call a committee member who will do so. In October, we were officially approved as a Monarch Waystation by Monarchwatch.org.

Monarch Butterfly Workshop June 2019

A wonderful sunny day in June  was had for the Monarch Butterfly Workshop.The ladies planted the Butterfly Breeding stations with milkweed and nectar plants . It was an enjoyable morning.  Special thanks to Bonnie Brodman for all her help on making this project a success.

Photos:Jeannette Michelson

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Hand-Raising Monarchs

A recent article published in the prestigious journal, “Proceedings of the National Academy of Science”  is raising the alarm that some monarch butterflies raised in captivity are unable to orient themselves to fly in a southern direction and are therefore unable to successfully migrate. If they stay up north, they will not survive the winter.  If they mate, their offspring may not know how to migrate. The author of the article suspects that being raised inside prevents some necessary environmental cues to reach the caterpillar/chrysalis/ butterfly.  At this point, we don’t know what those cues are or if this problem is avoided by raising them outside.

In light of this new study, the birds and wildlife committee of the Garden Club of LBI is discouraging hand raising monarchs until further research sheds more light on the problem.  Instead, we will continue to encourage people to plant milkweed for Monarch caterpillars and nectar plants for Monarch butterflies.  We also urge people not to use herbicides or pesticides in their gardens.  If we can improve the habitat of the Monarchs, they should be able to recover.

 

 

Speaking of butterflies...

While we’ve been concentrating on monarchs, Sue Vehslage is concerned about swallowtails–those pesky caterpillars eating your parsley and dill. While the decline in monarchs is making headlines, our feathered friends are picking off swallowtails by the hundreds.

Sue’s asked that if you see a caterpillar on your plants to please net the plant until the butterfly has eclosed (hatched in butterfly lingo). If you can’t do that, she’s offered to take them off your hands, though she’d rather not. As she said, “I don’t want to start a hatchery.

So in 2018, once again, the Club has taken the Monarch butterfly under our wing–so to speak!  Take a look at some of our results.

The life cycle of a Monarch as captured in photos by Pam Masturzo.  The last photo is a swallowtail.

Attracting Monarchs to your garden…

Here are just a few of the local plants that will draw adult Monarchs to your garden. Click on a picture to enlarge.