Seats are still available for tonight’s free public workshop about Monarch butterflies and the milkweed plants they need to survive in the Lahontan Valley.
The workshop is hosted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and is from 6- 8 p.m. at the Churchill County extension office on Sheckler Road.
Workshop participants will receive a starter pack of local milkweed seeds, and instructions on how and where to plant them this Fall. Attendees also receive preference for seating at the expanded ½ day workshop next spring that will have more hands-on lessons and a field activity.
Call 775-423-5128 ext 228 to reserve a seat for today’s workshop by 3 p.m. or you may check at the door for open seats. Light refreshments will be available, along with pollinator handbooks, posters and other helpful information.
Workshop leader Michelle Hunt will provide a brief, colorful and fun overview of the Monarch butterfly and milkweed life cycles and how to develop a native plant backyard habitat to help these long-distance travelers survive in this area.
Hunt said that even though some species of milkweed are toxic to livestock, and therefore routinely mowed, burned or sprayed, relatively few cases of poisoning occur in the Lahontan Valley due to the excellent herd management of area farmers and ranchers.
“Cattle, sheep and horses will not choose to eat milkweed unless they have nothing else available or it gets baled in hay,” Hunt said.
Hut added Churchill county is a great place for Monarch butterflies as they stop here during two stages of their long migration when the irrigation ditches are full.
“Milkweed is a native plant and benefits many pollinators, but Monarchs are the only ones that can’t survive without it,” Hunt said. “In the last five years, Monarch populations have plummeted over 90 percent, mainly due to loss of milkweed habitat.”
She said Monarchs are considered an “indicator” species of overall health of the natural world and lay their eggs exclusively on milkweed plants. The caterpillars will only eat milkweed until they form a chrysalis that becomes a butterfly. Monarch butterflies are nectar feeders, seeking flowering plants as they fly to California and Mexico for the winter. They return to our area in the spring to lay the eggs of the 2nd generation that will journey north. In late summer and early fall, the 4th generation of butterflies returns to continue the cycle.