Is your Milkweed native?

The Atlanta Botanical Garden hosts Science Cafe, a series of informal science based talks that encourage the public to engage with speakers on important topics. This years series focuses on pollinators and their conservation, and highlights several important pollinator related projects and the researchers behind them.

Today we are highlighting Dr Jaret Daniels  an Associate Professor of Entomology at the University of Florida  who spoke at the Gardens on Monarch butterfly conservation. Monarch butterflies are some of the most iconic species of butterfly in North America, primarily because of their enigmatic coloring and their fascinating migratory patterns. However due to declining habitat, numbers of Monarchs have been decreasing.

In his presentation, along with outlining  overall habitat decline, Daniels pointed out one of the other threats to Monarch butterflies is non-native milkweed. Daniel informed the audience that planting tropical milkweed could cause populations of Monarchs to persist longer into the cooler months, causing them to freeze in a cold Atlanta winter, rather than migrating south for overwintering in warmer climates.

Instead native milkweed species such as Asclepias tuberosa and Asclepias incarnata are excellent caterpillar host plants, and nectar plants for adult butterflies. These types of milkweed provide forage and nesting for Monarchs, and are encouraged in plantings of pollinator gardens.

Additionally Daniels encourages gardeners to vet local milkweed sources, and be sure your native milkweed is pesticide free. This is because some systemic pesticides can remain in the plant, and be transferred to Monarch caterpillars and adults.

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Monarchs overwinter at El Rosario Monarch Sanctuary. Flickr: Heather Spaulding

 

Daniels talk fostered a clearer understanding of the biology and conservation issues related to one of North America’s most famous pollinators. For more information on Dr. Jaret Daniels research and scientific lepidopterian interests you can visit his academic page here.

 

 

Co-blogged by GAPP + Jataysia Daniels, Greening Youth Foundation & Atlanta Botanical Garden Conservation Intern!

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Georgia Butterfly Brochure

Do you want to know who is who in your pollinator garden? Well now you can thanks to The North American Butterfly Association ( Georgia- Piedmont Chapter), who have teamed up with Dr. Jaret Daniels and Monarchs acrossGeorgia to create a Georgia butterfly brochure.

With funding from Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites and the U.S Fish & Wildlife Service, This brochure is a step by step guide on how to properly identify butterflies.

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Knowing which butterflies are in your local area will help you, help them, by becoming informed about the butterflies specific host plants, and life cycles. This step by step guide is  broken up into three categories; brushfoots, whites/sulphurs/skippers, and swallowtails so that you can easily  identify butterflies in your local pollinator gardens!

Download the brochure here and start identifying your garden’s visitors today!

 

Co-blogged by GAPP + Jataysia Daniels, Greening Youth Foundation & Atlanta Botanical Garden Conservation Intern!

Discovery day at the Jimmy Carter Library

Come and join the GAPP team and other partners on Saturday June 18th from 9:00am to 1:00pm for a fun day of hands-on Monarch butterfly and pollinator activities at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum. Sponsored by the Rosalyn Carter Butterfly Trail, The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum, and the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, the discovery day will feature booths for children and adults to learn more about pollinator conservation.
Partners for the event include Monarchs across Georgia, Atlanta Botanical Garden, Blue Heron Nature Preserve, Emory University and many many more who plan to have exciting activities and information for participants.
So come and enjoy this FREE event, interact with some of Georgia’s most dedicated pollinator conservationists and learn what we are doing to promote pollinator abundance and health in Georgia!
As an added bonus the Freeedom Farmers’ Market will also be attending and operating at the event, which features several native plant vendors! So if you missed all those native plant sales we blogged about at the beginning of this month, here is your chance to get some great natives for your pollinator garden!
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The Greening Youth Foundation takes action in Atlanta’s parks and green spaces

Did you know the city of Atlanta owns 350 parks and green spaces? All of these areas play a pivotal role in linking green space across metro Atlanta for pollinators. The upkeep of these areas is a mammoth task, and today GAPP is highlighting a conservation group who  maintain some of Atlanta’s most underutilized urban parks and green spaces.

The Greening Youth Foundation (GYF) is an Atlanta based organization whose mission is to nurture environmental stewardship among diverse youth and young adults, and expose them to conservation careers. Through programs such as the Atlanta Youth Corps (AYC) , The Greening Youth Foundation is able to support community based projects in local Atlanta parks, green spaces, and farms.

Currently, along with park maintenance AYC crews are helping to build and maintain pollinator habitat!  Partnering with the Atlanta Botanical Gardens the Greening Youth Foundation’s Atlanta Youth Corps members are learning about milkweed and other native pollinator plants, and participating in pollinator garden out-planting at local parks.

Whitney C. Jaye, a GYF team member, describes the foundations commitment to pollinator conservation here, and also talks about plans for a native GA milkweed production nursery at the foundations Conservation Learning Institute. Help GAPP spread the word about the Greening Youth Foundation, an important youth driven organization who emphasize urban habitat restoration, conservation and community service.

 

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Dr. Jennifer Cruse Sanders, of the Atlanta Botanical Garden, teams up with  Greening Youth Foundation’s Urban Youth Corps during a pollinator garden out planting in Vine City, Atlanta.

 

 

 

 

 

Volunteer and help monitor Monarchs!

Monarch butterflies are a keystone pollinator species, and their larvae can be found on native milkweed species in many GAPP pollinator gardens during spring and summer.

Monarch Health is a citizen science program run by Dr. Sonia Altizer in the Odum School of Ecology at the University of Georgia. It is targeted toward understanding host-parasite interactions in Monarch butterflies.  The project relies on volunteers who sign up to conduct protozoan parasite testing on Monarchs in their area. The data will then be used by the organization to better understand the spread of a protozoan parasite across North America. Participants are mailed a free testing kit, and the procedure does not harm the Monarchs in any way.

Anyone who is interested in pollinator conservation and would like to help on a project that contributes to the scientific knowledge of a very important species can become involved with Monarch Health here http://www.monarchparasites.org.

Have you thanked a pollinator today?

Native Milkweed Sale

Are you looking to expand your Monarch habitat? Look no further! The Blue Heron Nature Preserve is hosting a Georgia native milkweed plant and seed sale this Saturday, June 6th from 10am-noon at 4055 Roswell Rd. Various plant species and seeds will be available for purchase, and you can also pick up fresh-baked goodies, shade-grown coffee, and tips for making the most out of your garden. We hope to see you there!

Native Georgia Milkweed Seeds

As the decline of pollinator populations continue, the risk for these insects and animals is becoming more and more apparent.  With this information becoming newsworthy, Environmental Education in Georgia has revealed that the Fernbank Science Center is now accepting milkweed seeds from those able to collect the seed pods from surrounding areas.  If citizens are able to collect and ship the milkweed seeds, those new plants will be put towards replenishing the habitats of vital pollinators.

The monarch overwintering sites located in Mexico have been reported to be at an all-time low during the winter of 2013.  One factor could be due to the upkeep of large farms where herbicides and pesticides kill milkweed in the United States, which monarchs require for reproduction.  As milkweeds are the only location monarchs will lay their eggs, and the only source of food for the larvae when they hatch, the preservation of milkweeds is very important.  Similarly, Georgia’s habitats are rare and not sufficient for large populations of monarch butterflies.  The citizen initiative to send in these milkweed seeds will help with native plants of Georgia in upcoming years.  The Fernbank Science Center is partnering on the project with Monarch Watch that will help propagate these native species.  Obtaining these seeds can revitalize the habitats of monarchs across Greater Atlanta and the outskirts of Georgia.

–Please visit this website to help you identify your Georgia Native Milkweed!

Here are a few tips, provided by Environmental Education in Georgia, for maximizing the benefit of your milkweed packaging.

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If you, or anyone you know, could help with the collection of milkweed seeds in Georgia, the Fernbank Science Center ask that you include:

Your Name, Street Address, Email, Date, County, State where the seed was collected, and Species.

Send seeds to contact:

Trecia Neal, Fernbank Science Center, Milkweed Seeds, 156 Heaton Park Dr. NE, Atlanta, GA 30307

On behalf of the Monarchs of Georgia, The Fernbank Science Center, and Greater Atlanta Pollinator Partnership thank you for your assistance and participation!

For More Information, please visit these websites:

1) http://eeingeorgia.org

2) http://eeingeorgia.org/resource

3)  http://www.eealliance.org/pollinator-habitat-grant