Learn how to help save Monarch butterflies July 26-27

Staff Report

Learn how to invite nature to your home by including native plants in your own garden, school or business that attract butterflies, bees and birds at a program and tour of natural yards sponsored by the Rock River Valley Chapter of the Wild Ones Natural Landscaping group July 26 and 27. The tour of nine natural yards and public spaces is free.

Michael R. Jeffords, Ph.D., a retired entomologist with the Illinois Natural History Survey, will speak at 9 a.m., Saturday, July 26, at Northern Illinois University — Rockford campus, 8500 E. State St., on the topic, “Surrounding Yourself with Nature: Strategies for the Home Landscape.”

Dr. Jefford’s program will be illustrated with his photos of insects and native plants found in natural areas in Illinois and of Monarch butterflies in their winter refuge in the oyamel fir forests of central Mexico.

Dr. Jeffords is co-author with his wife, Susan Post, of a new book, Exploring Nature in Illinois: A Field Guide to the Prairie State.

The program is free to Wild Ones members; a $5 donation is requested for others.

Nine natural yards and public spaces that feature native wildflowers and other plants that the casual gardener can plant to attract birds and butterflies, including Monarchs, will be open to visit from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, July 26, and from 1 to 5 p.m., Sunday, July 27. The tour sites are in Rockford, Belvidere, Rockton, Roscoe and South Beloit.

Each yard and public space features activities for families along with information about ways to help Monarch butterflies by planting milkweeds and local sources where one can buy native plants. A free milkweed plant will be given to each family, while supplies last. The list of tour locations and directions to each site will be posted on the Wild Ones Rock River Valley Chapter website prior to the event at www.WildOnesRRVC.org.

Wild Ones is a partner in the Monarch Joint Venture, a partnership of federal and state agencies, scientists and private conservation groups working together to protect the Monarch migration across the United States, Canada and Mexico. Monarchs migrate from their summer breeding habitat in the eastern U.S. and southern Canada an astonishing 3,000 miles to overwintering grounds in the mountains of central Mexico. One of nature’s most spectacular events, the Monarch migration is endangered in North America because of a loss of habitat in its wintering area in Mexico, pesticides and a dramatic decline in native milkweeds.

Monarch caterpillars require milkweeds to grow and develop into butterflies. In addition to the important role milkweeds play in the lives of Monarchs, they are valuable nectar sources for bees and other butterflies. Enhancing Monarch habitat along roads and highways, in yards and parks, and in natural habitats by planting milkweeds and other native species will benefit many important insects.

The Wild Ones Rock River Valley Chapter is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2014 by hosting this public event. Sponsors include the University of Illinois Extension and Taylor Creek Restoration Nurseries in Brodhead, Wis. Wild Ones promotes the use of native plants for environmentally sound landscapes. It holds monthly programs open to the public, Show Me/Help Me yard tours, and annual native plant sales.

From the July 16-22, 2014, issue

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