By Amada Foust
The monarch butterfly is in danger, and Cool Creek Nature Center is on a mission to help.
The center, 2000 E. 151st St. in Carmel, is offering several Mission Monarch programs this season to help teach the community about simple steps they can take to create a better environment for the insects. Events include nature walks, a garden planting and habitat creation workshop.
From the time they are caterpillars, monarchs can only eat milkweed, which is becoming harder to find as land is developed said Sarah Kempfer, Cool Creek Nature Center specialist.
“Monarchs are having a hard time with the changes in its environment and the reduced amount of milkweed due to pesticides, new development and crops,” Kempfer said.
Milkweed naturally grows on field edges and farm corners, but it can easily be planted in residential areas to help the next generation of monarchs. Instead of giving the monarchs a desert of manicured lawns, Kempfer said milkweed can be planted among residential landscaping or near ponds in subdivisions to provide food and shelter for monarchs.
“Hamilton County could be a leader in getting more milkweed growing,” Kempfer said.
Monarchs awake from hibernation in Mexico, find a mate and fly north to lay their eggs. Four generations are born on the journey from Mexico to Canada before the migration south begins again.
“The monarch is one of the few insects who migrate where people all over North America can enjoy,” Kempfer said.
For a list of local nurseries that carry milkweed, visit www.hamiltonswcd.org/where-to-find-native-plants.html.
Upcoming nature center events
- Nature Kids-Preschool Gathering – 10:30 a.m. April 13 and 14
- Homeschooler Hikers – 1 p.m. April 21
- Habitat Creation Workshop – 6 to 8 p.m. May 9
- Butterfly Hike at Bray Family Homestead (528 SR 28, Noblesville) – 1 p.m. May 21
- Butterfly Hike at River Road Park (12575 River Road, Carmel) – 2 p.m. June 22