The Awesome Mitten - Michigan Butterflies

Day 316: Michigan Butterflies

The Awesome Mitten - Michigan Butterflies
Photo courtesy of Michigan Butterflies

Do you dig Michigan wildlife–the butterflies, birds, and the plants that host your favorite fluttery beasts? If so, check out Michigan Butterflies.

Michigan Butterflies, LLC is a local Grand Rapids butterfly farm dedicated to the conservation and the building of gardens specifically for butterflies, in order to preserve our winged friends’ homes.  Michigan Butterflies is actively involved in the research and the education of the largest native migratory butterfly, the Monarch. Michigan Butterflies is an educational haven for local students and outdoor enthusiasts. The owner, Holli Ward, is heavily involved in an international conservation project—Monarch Watch—the best-known Monarch research institute in the United States.

Through Michigan Butterflies and Monarch Watch you can track one of the world’s natural wonders—the Monarch’s fall migration to Mexico. Monarch Watch encourages you to create Monarch Waystations, which offer vital resources to Monarchs, along the migratory pathway to and from Mexico. And you can help map this unknown pathway. These stations are extremely important because they help produce successive generations of Monarchs and also sustain their migration.

The Awesome Mitten - Michigan Butterflies
Photo courtesy of Michigan Butterflies

You’ll be able to gain insight on the geographic range of Monarchs through the tagging program; only one year of data may help us map the path. A small white, circular tag, with a unique number that indicates their origin and date of release, is placed on the Monarch to help track them. If you find a Monarch with a tag don’t be afraid that you’ll hurt them; monarchs and their scales are very tough. All you have to do is enter the number on the tag to Monarch Watch’s website (www.monarchwatch.org). This will allow Monarch Watch to map their progress down to Mexico and back.

You can also become involved by creating a butterfly garden of your own, where native butterflies will live and feed. Michigan Butterflies can help! With their expertise you can learn how to plant your new butterfly garden, window box, or unused acreage. You can buy seed and plants (mainly, various types of milkweed) directly from Michigan Butterflies. These seeds and plants range from $1 – $5 (discounts for bulk orders). Remember, the nectar from these plants host larvae (baby butterflies) and nectar for adults. Without their host plants, Monarchs would be unable to make their journey. The constant development of our land is eating up habitat for Monarchs and other populations at a rate of 6,000 acres a day. By planting, we are protecting and preserving their home.

The Awesome Mitten - Michigan Butterflies
Photo courtesy of Michigan Butterflies

You can also purchase Monarchs at any stage (May through September), from Michigan Butterflies, to experience the event yourself at home or school. The kits range from $5 – $10, and because elementary teachers are especially focused on biology his would be epic for a classroom or gathering of “kids” at home.

The most splendid way to honor our Michigander winged friends is to provide them with some habitat, nutrition, and awesome love–visit Michigan Butterflies. You can also check out the Facebook and Twitter pages.

-Christina Larson, Feature Writer

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