The Port Washington Monarch Butterfly Alliance is a community organization with the goal of making the entire community of PW a butterfly sanctuary, to re-wild our area to promote biodiversity, and to make experiences of nature more accessible to the community. We are a collaboration of local schools, youth and community groups, public gardens, environmental centers, businesses, government agencies, and international Monarch conservation groups. The Monarch Alliance is actively studying biodiversity on the Port Washington peninsula to advise the Town of North Hempstead about where and how to conserve it. Join the Monarch Butterfly Alliance and the ReWild Initiative to explore our local natural habitats, attend nature walks, put plants into the ground, and create habitats that will enhance our region's biological diversity and environmental resilience.
The Importance of Biodiversity
A habitat is a place where a plant, animal, or a biological community lives. Biological diversity, or biodiversity, refers to the varieties of life forms or the web of life. It encompasses ecosystems, communities, individual species, and the genetic variations of individual organisms. The importance of biodiversity in the environment has come to be widely accepted over the last three decades. Biodiversity has been recognized as an indicator of ecosystem health, a reservoir for agricultural variety, a source of medicines, a supporter of watershed quality, a mediator against human disease and disease vectors, and an aesthetic and educational resource.
Why Monarch Butterflies?
Protecting Monarch butterflies means protecting habitats and biological communities. Monarch butterflies are an emblematic flagship species that herald our need to protect biological diversity. Monarchs are an 'umbrella species' in the sense that protecting monarch butterflies protects and benefits all of the flora and fauna associated with monarch butterfly habitats such as gardens, meadows, farms, roadsides, waste places, stream corridors, and edges. Monarch habitats support many species of butterflies and moths, bees, dragonflies, migratory and breeding birds, native plants, and other organisms. Creating habitat for Monarchs helps to enhance our region's environmental resilience and protect the health of local biodiversity and habitats. "The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) says: “The state of Monarchs reflects the health of the American landscape and its pollinators. Monarch declines are symptomatic of environmental problems that also pose risks to food production, the spectacular natural places that help define our national identity, and our own health. Conserving and connecting habitat for monarchs will benefit many other plants and animals, including critical insect and avian pollinators, and future generations of Americans.”
Monarch Butterflies and Many other Species are Endangered
The Monarch butterfly, like some very roughly estimated 30% of the species on this planet, is threatened with extinction. The Monarch population size is down to 5% of what it was in the 1990s. and without action there is a strong possibility that the world will be missing this species come 2050. The very same problems endangering monarch butterflies are imperiling flora, fauna, and biodiversity around the world: namely Habitat loss, Climate Change, Pollution, Over-exploitation of resources, and Overpopulation (HIPPO).
What you Can Do
You can start conserving and protecting monarch populations in your backyard by planting or placing milkweed and nectar plants in the ground or in a pot. Monarch habitats are sites containing a variety of nectar-producing plants, especially milkweed, a family of plants that is the sole host for Monarch butterfly eggs and caterpillars. If you plant it, they will come. Like oases, these habitats serve as connections or steppingstones linking populations of Monarch butterflies and a diversity of wildlife over the course of their migratory cycles and ranges.
We host Monarch workshops for the general community, workshops for teachers, and planting events in public parks and in other habitats throughout the year. The Workshops turn the practice of raising Monarch Butterflies into a learning experience for adults and children. Participants will also be introduced to the surprising plants and animals associated with Monarchs as the Monarchs go through their brief reproductive life cycle in Port Washington along their migratory route from Mexico and back each year. Participants will receive free local plants, caterpillars, equipment, storybooks, and the training needed to raise monarch butterflies in their homes, classrooms, and gardens. By releasing monarch butterflies into the world to join their migration and by planting seeds, participants will be supporting the growth and health of this imperiled species, pollinators, and Port Washington's biodiversity as a whole.