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Monarch Aware Program launched with free butterfly tagging workshops
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Butterfly Garden at Silva Creek Botanical Garden in full bloom.
utterfly Way, a local habitat restoration project, will host a two-day butterfly workshop on Oct. 6 and 7 as part of its Monarch Aware program. Steve Cary, author of the book “Butterfly Landscapes of New Mexico” and locally known as New Mexico’s own, “Butterfly Guy” will be the featured guest. Silver City is hosting a free Monarch tagging workshop with Steve from 3:30-4:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 6 at the Silva Creek Botanical Gar-
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den (across from Virginia Street Park). The community is welcome to come learn the basics of Monarch biology and how Silver City can become part of a state-wide citizen science Monarch monitoring team. Participants will have an opportunity to help tag and release Monarch butterflies at the garden. Tagging butterflies (fitting them with a safe, labeled sticker) can help scientists understand the unusual migration pattern of the Monarch species. Citizen scientists can help by documenting when they see Monarchs, tagging butterflies during migration, and increasing food and breeding sources for these beautiful butterflies. During the past 20 years, Monarch butterfly populations have declined by more than 80 percent throughout much of their range prompting the on-going petition to have the Monarch protected under the endangered species act. The primary factor in the decline appears to be the loss of critical breeding and overwintering habitat in North America, particularly the loss of milkweed plants – the sole food of the Monarch caterpillar. To help butterfly populations recover, citizen projects across the country, including the Butterfly Way Project at the Gila River Farm in Cliff, have planted milkweeds along the Monarch’s migrating routes. At the Silva Creek Botanical Garden in Silver City, a special butterfly garden has been established to promote Monarch flyovers and
the Gila Native Plant Society has planted hundreds of native plants that provide important nectar sources for pollinators of all kinds. The Butterfly Way Project is hoping to encourage our community to do its part to support Monarchs in their journey and is giving away free milkweeds for transplanting at Friday’s workshop. The program continues at 7 p.m. on the evening of Oct. 6 when Cary will be the special guest at the monthly Southwestern New Mexico Audubon Society meeting at Harlan Hall on the Western New Mexico University campus. The program, “From River to Mountains; Silver City Monarch Aware” is free. Cary will describe, through photos and maps, the complex life story of this iconic black and orange butterfly, that each year undertakes a spectacular multi-generational migration of thousands of miles to and from overwintering and breeding areas. The program will describe current conservation efforts and citizen monitoring efforts in New Mexico. Monarch Aware will conclude Saturday morning, Oct. 7, with a field trip for people interested in learning to capture, tag and release, and monitor Monarchs in the wild. The workshop will move out to the bright yellow, Chamisa fields in Grant County where multitudes of butterflies can be seen feeding in the fall. To join Steve Cary for this workshop and register for this free special event, email butterflywayproject@gmail. com for more information.
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Caytlyn Bonura, DDS Butterfly Garden at Silva Creek Botanical Garden being planted.