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Butterflies are in trouble, but you have a chance to help them by growing pollinator plants in your yard. A free program will be held at 9:30 a.m. on February 17 at the Nook Meeting Room in the Calico Rock Museum and Visitor Center.
The program will include training on cultivating native plants that help all pollinators, but especially Monarch and Diana Fritillary butterflies. The first 30 participants to sign in will receive a no-hassle mini-greenhouse and plant it with native seeds.
Butterflies require three things to prosper in an area: nectar as adults, leaves of a particular plant for caterpillars and protected places to overwinter and form chrysalises to change from caterpillars to butterflies. Sadly, modern fertilized lawns and asphalt parking lots don’t provide these needs.
Four experts will describe exactly what you can do to make your yard pollinator-friendly. It’s quite simple: provide the plants butterflies need, give them places with winter habitat and leave some wild area around your yard.
Presenter Shawn Hunter is co-founder of the Diana Project. This group works to repopulate Arkansas’ state butterfly, the Diana Fritillary, by encouraging landowners to grow the native violets that are the caterpillars’ food source. Hunter will acquaint audience members with these big, beautiful butterflies and the plantings and the leaf-covered land their caterpillars need to overwinter.
Steve Blumreich of Friends of the North Fork and White Rivers will describe the decline of Monarch butterflies due to habitat loss and explain how growing milkweed plants can make a huge difference to these amazing migrators. These butterflies actually travel each fall towards Mexico, where thousands spend the winter.
Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Private Lands Biologist Tyler Savage will talk about preparing land for pollinator plants and explain what our state wildlife agency can do to help landowners to make their land wildlife friendly.
Dillon King of Pheasants and Quail Forever is another great resource person to explain planting for wildlife. Pheasants Forever provides biological and planting help and sells a wide variety of seeds for wildlife and pollinator species. Dillon’s pollinator gardens have made him an expert at helping native species grow in our difficult Ozark soil.
“Insects that pollinate plants are declining at an alarming rate,” says King. “Everyone can help. A tenth of acre planted in native grasses and wildflowers can make a big difference for a variety of wild creatures. Not only do native wildflowers provide nectar in the growing season, they are also drought-resistant and help mitigate soil erosion. Adding native vegetation to your landscaping can be a great way to make your yard a better place to live for your family and for wildlife.”
The first 30 participants who sign in for the seminar will get to plant a low maintenance mini-greenhouse made from a gallon jug and receive seeds to grow for spring planting. Next spring the milkweeds, violets and other species can either be planted in the participant’s home pollinator garden or brought back to the first Calico Rock Pollinator Garden on Rodman Avenue and planted there.
The class is sponsored by North Central Arkansas Master Naturalists, The Calico Rock Community Foundation and Thrivent Investments. To pre-register or get more information, email, text or call Master Naturalist Jill Easton at [email protected] or (870) 321-0351.