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Posts Tagged ‘butterflies’

monarch-on-tropical-milkwee

Photo: Rose Franklin’s Perennials
A Monarch alights on Butterfly Weed. It also loves milkweed.

Sometimes I find the background for a post in a roundabout way. I heard about Mexico’s Monarch butterfly hero, Jose Luis Alvarez, recently on Public Radio International, which had borrowed his story from the BBC. But because I like to have text to work with, not just audio, I searched online for additional information.

I’m glad I did because practically in my own backyard there’s an organization that’s partnering with Alvarez and helping folks far from Mexico to plant the Butterfly Weed that Monarchs love. Here’s what I learned at Vermont Woods Studio.

According to Peggy Farabaugh, “Jose Luis Alvarez  … is a silviculturist in Mexico who has devoted his life to restoring the forested winter habitat of the Monarch.  [In March 2016] I traveled to Michoacan, Mexico, to meet Jose Luis & see his work. I love Monarchs & we’ve been conserving their summer habit here in Vermont for many years, so I thought maybe we should collaborate and get some Vermont-Mexico synergy going!

“In 1997, Jose Luis created a non-profit called ‘Forests For Monarchs,’ which came to be known as the La Cruz Habitat Protection Program (in the USA) and the Michoacan Restoration Fund (in Mexico).  With donations from people all across the USA, Canada and Mexico, ‘Forests for Monarchs’ has been able to plant nearly 6 million trees.  …

“During the winter Michoacan, Mexico, is home to the entire species of the Eastern Monarch Butterfly (which summers in Vermont). [Illegal] deforestation has devastated the area. … [Jose Luis has] made great progress, but much re-planting still needs to be done.

“Here in rural Vernon, Vermont, a number of friends, neighbors, customers, gardeners and Vernon Elementary School children have been planting milkweed. … We’ve been growing milkweed from seed and giving the seedlings away to fellow Monarch lovers.

“Monarchs summering in Vermont are programmed to migrate to Michoacan, Mexico, in the fall.  There they join the entire population of their species, huddled together in the shelter of the last few remaining acres of their wooded winter habitat.  Mind-boggling, right?  How can an insect (that only weighs as much as a raisin) fly 3,000 miles, to the exact same location its ancestor came from –- when it’s never even been there before? I had to see it to believe it.  So …

“I traveled to Mexico (with my now grown up sons) to meet Jose Luis and we took his Spirit of Butterflies Tour last month. It was amazing.  But we were alarmed to see the extent of deforestation in the area.  Without help reforesting their habitat, the Monarch will soon go the way of the passenger pigeon & that would be just too sad.  So we brainstormed about developing a Vermont-Mexico partnership to help save the butterfly.

“Besides being a forester, Jose Luis is an internationally renowned speaker. He’s been featured in numerous documentary films by the BBC, National Geographic, the Canadian Broadcasting Channel and others. He’s been an advisor and guide to researchers, scientists, photographers & videographers from all over the world as they seek to save the Monarch. His work has been written about in newspapers including the Wall Street Journal & The New York Times.

“So we thought we should bring Jose Luis up to Vermont and New England for a speaking tour to raise awareness about the Monarch’s plight. I guess I got a little carried away and volunteered to help Jose Luis Alvarez plant a million trees in the Monarch’s over-wintering area of Mexico.” More here.

The Vermont Studios post was written originally in 2016 and updated last August.

Photo: Fernando Laposse/BBC
Jose Luis Alvarez is protecting Monarch butterflies by planting deforested areas with the trees they need when they winter-over in Mexico.

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https://butterflywebsite.com/foundats/lacruz/project.cfm

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Photo: Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe
Jean Devine (left) and Jayden Pineda, 7, make a meadow at the Waltham Y.

I’m excited that today the Boston Globe caught up with my friend Jean’s terrific biodiversity-education outreach. Readers may recall that I blogged here and here about how she and Barbara Passero got started on “meadowscaping” — hoping to ween homeowners from using pesticides and herbicides that harm the environment and contribute to global warming.

Debora Almeida reports on the educators’ latest work with kids: “Swimming, crafting, and playing games are staples of day camp, but kids at the Waltham YMCA are doing something new this summer.

“They’re learning how to plant and cultivate a meadow — and why they should.

“ ‘We just want to save the world, that’s all,’ said Barbara Passero, cofounder of Meadowscaping for Biodiversity, an outdoor environmental education program for students of all ages, which has partnered with the Y for the project.

“Over the course of the summer, Passero and program leader Jean Devine are teaching children the fundamentals of meadow upkeep and the importance of planting exclusively native plants. They are the best hosts for pollinators, such as bees, butterflies, and moths. In turn, the insects attract other wildlife such as birds and rabbits, building biodiversity.

“While some people’s first instinct would be to spray pesticides to protect their hard work from leaf-munching insects, Passero knows that birds will take care of the insects on their own. She also refuses to use any toxic substances around the children, who truly get their hands dirty digging in the meadow. Seth Lucas, program administrator at the Waltham Y, said kids love the activity. …

“The meadow started as a patch of weedy grass, but is in the process of becoming a 10-by-60-foot flourishing garden. Passero and Devine are setting the meadow up for success with native plants that come back year after year. The plants are self-sustaining and spread on their own.”

Such a happy story! Do read the whole thing here.

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My friend Bob says there is no bad weather, only bad clothing. So I headed out at lunch yesterday all bundled up to take some pictures.

The following is to be sung to the tune of “When You Walk through a Storm.”

When you walk in the cold
Hold your head up high
And don’t be afraid
You will freeze.

At the end of your walk
There’s a golden …

I think I’m stuck. Maybe songwriter Will McM will dig me out.

While I’m on the subject, here’s a 1980s attempt at a song about cold, to be sung to the tune of “I’m Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover.” Suzanne’s elementary school music teacher actually used it in class.

What is the reason
That we’re all freezin’
And the birdbath is filled with ice?
Why does my Omni
Go sideways down the street?
Why do my children wear
Baggies on their feet?
What normal fellow
Whose brains aren’t Jello
Would keep fighting this cold war?
What is the reason
That we’re all freezin’
And what did we move here for?

Believe it or not, I kind of like the cold. And I love getting out and taking pictures. Yesterday I noticed a yellow Fort Point Arts sign on an old chain link fence. Then I noticed the butterflies.

Read about Claudia Ravaschiere and Mike Moss’s installation, Flutter, here.

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public-art-fort-point

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