HERNANDO, Miss — Folks in the Mid-South are working to save the monarch butterfly.
This weekend, Mississippi Wildlife Rehabilitation held an event at ARK Trails in Hernando called ‘Mississippi for the Monarch,’ aimed at helping the population of monarch butterflies, which are on the endangered list.
“The monarch butterfly is a pollinator. And pollinators are important to our communities because if we want to eat our cucumbers, our okra, our vegetables, strawberries, blueberries, pollinators are a very important part to the ecosystem to bring those plants and make those plants thrive,” said Debbie Crum, Executive Director of Mississippi Wildlife Rehabilitation. “So, not only do you have a beautiful butterfly, but that beautiful butterfly pollinates our food.”
“Without the pollinators including the monarch, we are going to lose many fruits and vegetables,” said Reba Wright, DeSoto County Master Gardener. “We need them as much as they need us.”
“We want to educate people on what they can do to bring the monarchs to their properties. How to plant, what the host plants are, and how to keep them thriving in DeSoto County,” said Crum.
The experts said everyone should take a very small corner of their yard and plant milkweed and flowers to help the monarchs thrive. Herbicides and pesticides hurt monarch butterflies.
“The milk weed is very important because that is the only host plant for monarch butterflies,” said Wright.
“The butterfly feeds off the milkweed, and the butterfly needs the milkweed to be able to survive,” said Crum.
One of the people who took part this weekend was Master Urban Forester Richard Warfel. He said he and his classmates collected milkweed as a young boy back during World War II and donated it to the government. The government would then use the milkweed in the life jackets assigned to the troops. It was his way of contributing to the war.
“I love nature. I’m 85. It amazed me at how they take the time and care for the butterflies to put them in these little nets. And to see the chrysalises change into butterflies. And they release them knowing they are helping the world,” said Warfel.
“Our goal is to try to get some seeds and plants in the ground to save the monarch,” said Wright. “You can plant your host plants and also your nectar plants. Then you will have the offerings that a monarch would need to survive and to come back.”
“The more that we help, the more other places will help and we can keep those numbers growing,” said Crum.
The group is working to build a wildlife hospital and nature center, which they said will include a butterfly exhibit.