JAMESTOWN, NY (WNY News Now) – A Jamestown area nature center continued a unique educational program this month, pairing butterflies and brews.
All jokes aside, wildlife experts at the Audubon Nature Center say it is more important than ever to help the Monarch Butterfly species, which is now listed on the endangered species list.
While the insect is preparing to head south for the winter, there are still many things we can do to help the species thrive locally.
Even though the insect weighs less than a paperclip, it embarks on a powerful journey throughout its life.
Those at the Butterflies and Brews got the chance to see these creatures up close.
“The butterflies that fly down to Mexico, that migrate to Mexico this time of year all the way through early October, they’ll stay the winter in Mexico and if they make it through the winter, in about late February, March, they’ll start to migrate back up but as soon as they encounter milkweed starting to grow, they’ll stop probably around mid-Texas and they’ll mate and lay their eggs on milkweed and then those butterflies will die. It might take about three generations to come back up to this area,” explained Audubon Educator Katie Finch.
Unfortunately, the Monarch Butterfly has seen a major decline in population over the years.
“Butterfly populations have dropped drastically. In the past two decades they’ve dropped about 90 percent. They’ve yet to be put on an endangered species list in the United States, but that doesn’t mean that there still aren’t things we can do,” said Finch.
There are a few things anyone can do to help the butterfly population grow.
“The biggest thing is to leave or plant milkweed for the caterpillars, but also all these flowers behind me are great food for the adult butterflies, so when they reach that adult stage and they start that journey down to Mexico, the adults need to eat too,” Finch said.
A myth surrounding Monarchs is that their wings are too fragile to be handled. While that is true for some butterflies, it does not apply to Monarchs.
“If you do touch them, you should always touch them with their wings closed and keep your fingers firm, but don’t squeeze, on the butterfly if you did have to move it. Don’t move your fingers back and forth,” Finch explained.
“Monarchs are amazing. They go through this amazing life cycle, they have this incredible migration journey for something that looks so delicate,” said Finch.