“Monarch butterfly populations are declining due to loss of habitat. To assure a future for monarchs, conservation and restoration of milkweeds needs to become a national priority.” Chip Taylor, Director, Monarch Watch
Monarch butterflies are in trouble. Loss of habitat and pesticides have significantly impacted their migration to Mexico. Milkweed is the single most important plant for monarchs. It is a major nectar source for adults and the only food source for their caterpillars and is disappearing at alarming rates along their flyways.
In 2014, NBG will focus on this national ecological issue through our summer exhibit Mission Monarch: Project Milkweed. We care deeply about and understand the ecological issues related to butterflies and other pollinators. Our 3-acre Bristow Butterfly Garden, Butterfly House and many areas around the garden are planted with host and nectar plants and will be the backdrop of this exhibit. Additionally, NBG was recently certified as a Monarch Waystation. Using these areas, along with programing and displays, NBG will embark on Mission Monarch: Project to bring awareness and action to this critical issue.
MISSION Monarch: Project Milkweed Description
Mission Monarch will allow guests to learn about the life cycle and issues of the monarch butterfly. Our current Butterfly House will receive a new addition called Migration Station that will feature hundreds of monarch butterflies, live butterfly cam, various species of milkweed, activities and presentations all summer long. We will provide easy ways that our guests can help monarchs in their yards and patios.
Monarch Migration Flyway
Families will enjoy “migrating” between the Butterfly House and WOW Children’s Garden through the Monarch Migration Flyway. This is a series of tunnels, each creatively designed by local artists, to look like butterflies and caterpillars and other images that tell the story of the monarch.
Kids of all ages will enjoy navigating through the newly updated butterfly maze.
NBG your educators will offer the Caterpillar Club daily in the butterfly garden for an hour of fun butterfly related activities. This program will include a different monarch/butterfly related theme for each day of the week. Each class will include storytime, a craft, and a guided exploration of the butterfly house. Participants will receive a “monarch passport” and receive a stamp each time they participate.
Monarchs need milkweed, so NBG is on a mission to bring more milkweed to Hampton Roads and along the east coast! Milkweed is our official 2014 Signature Plant and the focus of our Annual Plant Sale on Mother’s Day Weekend. NBG will grow as much as possible and work with other nurseries to make it available. We will provide, classes, handouts, conduct and social media campaign and connect with other botanical gardens from here to Florida to grow and plant milkweed in the butterfly corridors. Additionally, NBG will invite the local community (schools, scouts, churches, garden clubs and other botanical gardens) to join in for Plant it for the Monarchs, a day in which we team together to plant milkweed along the east coast.
The Butterfly Festival will take place on Saturday in July that will celebrate butterflies with the focus on monarchs and gardening for butterflies.
WOW Children’s Garden
The Youth Education Department will offer a monarch education station in the children’s garden, daily from 10:00am-6:00pm. This area will include crafts and interactive activities that take the children through a monarch’s migration. These will include:
- Movement through a course to learn about metamorphosis.
- Games that teach about the obstacles that monarchs face (predators, loss of habitat, etc.)
- A flower model for children to “pollinate”.
- Monarch “dress-up” activities that teach about the parts of a butterfly.