Thu July 15, 2021
DOWNERS GROVE, IL – Each year, monarch butterflies will migrate thousands of miles through Canada and the United States to reach Mexico for warmer temperatures during the winter. To make this journey, monarchs need vital resources to produce multiple generations of butterflies and sustain their migration. Monarch waystations provide food, water and shelter to assist them along their travels.
Nicole Klatchko, Natural Resources Intern at the Downers Grove Park District, has worked to create a monarch waystation for the butterflies visiting Downers Grove. Entering her senior year in Environmental Science at Dominican University, Klatchko helped the District to become a certified Monarch Waystation through Monarch Watch, a nonprofit education, conservation, and research program that focuses on the monarch butterfly, its habitat, and its spectacular fall migration. To participate in this Monarch Waystation Program, gardens must meet guidelines such as size, exposure, shelter, milkweed and nectar plants and management measures to sustain the site.
As Illinois’ state insect, these pollinators thrive in the native landscape and rely on milkweed and other nectar plants for food and as host plants for larvae.
“Monarchs are essential to the health of our planet. There has been a significant decline in migratory habitats over the last few decades and it’s important to reestablish these sites for monarchs to refuel, rest and repopulate during their migration,” said Klatchko.
Klatchko chose an existing garden at the Downers Grove Park District’s Administrative Office as the perfect location for the monarch waystation. Located at 2455 Warrenville Road in Downers Grove, the monarch waystation at the Administrative Office includes the landscaping on the north side of the property.
“The Administrative Office was already home to many native pollinator plants,” said Klatchko. “After clearing out some of the invasive plants, I was able to add some new butterfly milkweed and common milkweed for the monarchs to enjoy.”
Soon, Klatchko will install a butterfly puddler at the waystation. This birdbath filled with sand and water will provide a safe landing place for monarchs to hydrate.
“Creating this habitat during my internship at the Park District was a great learning experience,” said Klatchko. “I’m excited to begin welcoming traveling monarchs to the new waystation this summer!”
The Park District is just one of 45 monarch waystations registered in Downers Grove. For families or organizations interested in creating a monarch habitat of their own, visit monarchwatch.org. To learn more about the status of monarchs in Illinois and to learn more about enhancing or creating monarch habitats, visit illinoismonarchproject.org.