Cater to the caterpillars

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With their transformational journey from caterpillar to butterfly, these beautiful critters are friendly reminders of growth and change. As life goes: along with positive change, negative changes are bound to happen.

According to the National Wildlife Federation Monarch butterfly populations have rapidly declined over 90 percent in the last two decades due to habitat loss and environmental stress, with the most recent drop of 27 percent recorded this past February.

So what can we do to help? At the local level, join the #Garden4Wildlife movement and plant a garden that provides food, water, and places for monarchs to lay their eggs.

MILKWEED FOR MONARCHS: Planting milkweed native to your region is one of the easiest, most vital steps we can take to making a big change. It is the single host plant necessary for females to lay their eggs and baby caterpillars to feed on and grow. Find the correct milkweed species for your area here: http://blog.nwf.org/2015/02/twelve-native-milkweeds-for-monarchs/

Nectar sources are especially important during spring and fall when monarchs migrate and need to fuel their flights, which can reach 2,000 miles during fall.

Adult butterflies are attracted to nectar-producing plants in red, yellow, orange, pink and purple blossoms. Depending on your region Asters, Goldenrods, sunflowers, and Blazing Stars are a few great examples. Search for your perfect plant pairings here: http://www.nwf.org/Garden-For-Wildlife/About/Native-Plants/Monarch-Nectar-Guides.aspx

PROTECTION AGAINST PREDATORS AND THE ELEMENTS: Butterflies look for shelter when wind speeds increase and skies grow dark. You’ll find them clinging to the undersides of leaves and tucked away into cracks of rocks or trees.

Make your garden as butterfly-friendly as possible by creating a bath using a shallow pan of wet sand or mud for them to sip from, and by providing a few rocks they can use to bask in the sun.

Plus, learn more exciting information by reading Ten Fabulous Facts About Butterflies: A Wildlife Garden’s Best Friend.

Inspire others in the GrowIt! community with photos of your garden habitat. Add photos of birds or other wildlife or habitat components (native plants, water source, shelter) from your garden with the #Garden4Wildlife.

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