Summer is fast approaching and, as we dip our toes in the green grass and soak in the sun’s rays, we may notice an absence from our backyards and gardens this year.
Over the past 22 years, the population of monarch butterflies has declined 68 percent according to the Center for Biological Diversity. For decades, monarchs have been as Midwest as corn, using the heartland’s crop fields as a birthing ground for their larvae. Due to the use of pesticides and herbicides, however, the monarch’s host plant, milkweed, is disappearing.
Evansville photographer Jason Massey discovered this while taking an Indiana Master Naturalist course with the Wesselman Nature Society.
“Last year was the first time I’ve planted any milkweed,” says Massey. “I have been planting native plants in our yard, however, for a few years now. Native plants benefit all insects in this region. They attract insects, which in turn attract wildlife like birds, and, as someone who does wildlife and insect photography, it’s nice to have these things in my very own backyard.”
Massey encourages others to join him in helping grow and revitalize Evansville’s monarch population. When shopping for milkweed locally, head to Peckenpaugh’s Garden Center (4512 Hogue Road) and Judy Schneider Kron Greenhouse (2325 Nuebling Road) — both locations keep the monarch-favorite plant in stock.
For those around Evansville, Robin’s Nest (714 E. Main St., Boonville, IN) typically has the plant after Mother’s Day. Colonial Classics (3633 Epworth Road, Newburgh, IN) can place an order for those interested in purchasing milkweed.
For more information, call Peckenpaugh’s Garden Center at 812- 425-9927, Judy Schneider Kron at 812-550-2895, Robin’s Nest at 812-897-4591, or Colonial Classics at 812-853-6622.