Drivers on Interstate Highway 35 in Texas may soon be sharing their rest areas with monarch butterflies.
The Native Plant Society of Texas, a Monarch Joint Venture partner, is making plans to design and install Monarch Waystations featuring native pollinator plants at Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) highway rest stops. Monarch Waystations are patches of habitat that provide resources necessary for monarchs to produce successive generations and sustain their migration.
The project and associated Federal funding is the result of a cooperative agreement between the Society and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), in cooperation with TxDOT. The gardens will be located at Safety Rest Areas on Interstate 35 in Hill and Bell County, and will include educational signage describing the monarch life cycle, migration pattern and the relationship between monarchs and native plants.
“We believe this cooperative agreement … is the start to a long term partnership that will greatly benefit the Monarch butterfly while adding beauty and interest along major roadways in the great state of Texas,” said Benjamin Tuggle, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southwest Regional Director. “It is also another demonstration of how successful we can be working collaboratively with Federal and state agencies, non-governmental organizations, and academic programs to support efforts to protect the monarch migration across the lower 48 United States.”
Kay Jenkins, who will lead the project for the Society, said the gardens will be planted with native Texas milkweed and with native plants that are used as nectar sources by the migrating butterflies. Female monarchs only lay their eggs on milkweed plants.
Most of the monarch butterflies east of the Rocky Mountains migrate south to Mexico each winter and return north in the spring, travelling through Texas along a corridor that roughly matches the path of Interstate Highway 35.
Scientists and the public have become alarmed by the decreasing numbers of monarch butterflies in recent years. Monarch Waystations can increase awareness of monarchs and help the public learn to identify and conserve the native plants that they depend on for survival. These gardens also provide high quality monarch habitat along the migratory route and may inspire others to create Monarch Waystations too!
The Native Plant Society of Texas is a non-profit, Monarch Joint Venture partner organization supported by grants, donations and member dues, which promotes research, conservation, and utilization of native plants and plant habitats of Texas through education, outreach, and example.
The photos below shows one of the sites to be planted in Hill County, taken by Bill Hopkins, and an example of an existing Monarch Waystation taken by Ilse Gebhard.
For more information about this project contact:
Bill Hopkins, President (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Native Plant Society of Texas
320 West San Antonio Fredericksburg Texas 78601