Fall means the hope of cooler weather and the occasional opportunity in Texas to wear the new sweater you have been waiting for 8 months to put on. There are trees changing colors and pumpkins everywhere. It is a time of year which many look forward to. Yet, many people don’t know that fall in Texas also means hundreds of Monarch Butterflies flying through as they head South for the winter.
Like birds, each year in September and October, hundreds of Monarchs from North America and Canada migrate south to Mexico for the winter, using Central Texas as their common meeting ground — from North Texas and the Hill Country to San Antonio.
What are Monarch Waystations
They are places that provide resources necessary for monarchs to produce successive generations and sustain their migration. Without milkweeds throughout their spring and summer breeding areas in North America, monarchs would not be able to produce the successive generations that culminate in the migration each fall. Similarly, without nectar from flowers these fall migratory monarch butterflies would be unable to make their long journey to overwintering grounds in Mexico. The need for host plants for larvae and energy sources for adults applies to all monarch and butterfly populations around the world.
Milkweeds and nectar sources are declining due to development and the widespread use of herbicides in croplands, pastures and roadsides. Because 90% of all milkweed/monarch habitats occur within the agricultural landscape, farm practices have the potential to strongly influence monarch populations.
How Can You Help
To offset the loss of milkweeds and nectar sources we can take the opportunity to create, conserve, and protect milkweed/monarch habitats. Making a "Monarch Waystations" (monarch habitats) in your home gardens and flowerbeds. Plant milkweed in as many areas around your property as possible to provide a “refueling” station, so to speak, for the monarchs during their migration. By creating and maintaining a Monarch Waystation you are contributing to monarch conservation, an effort that will help assure the preservation of the species and the continuation of the spectacular monarch migration phenomenon.