Monarch (butterflies) of the links

By |  November 9, 2017 0 Comments

The Monarch Challenge aims to increase the monarch population by planting milkweed.

Monarch butterfly populations have been declining in the United States since the late 1990s. One of many factors contributing to the decline is the shrinking number of milkweed plants, which are critical to their reproduction cycle. The monarch migration starts in central Mexico and moves north in February, through the central and eastern parts of the United States. Migrating monarchs require milkweed plants for females to lay eggs and for food for the hatching larvae, or next generation.

The vast majority of monarch butterfly reproduction occurs in the northern/central region of the United States. Two to three generations of butterflies will procreate during the summer. By mid- to late August, the northern migration ends and monarchs begin their southern migration, returning to their winter roosting site by late autumn.

In 2015, BASF launched a biodiversity research initiative called Living Acres Monarch Challenge, focused on helping increase the monarch butterfly population by establishing milkweed in non-crop areas. The research, conducted on the BASF Research Farm in Holly Springs, N.C., provides best practices for establishing and maintaining the plants in non-production areas.

Because major stretches of golf courses lie within the monarchs’ migration path, opportunities exist to create new monarch habitats in native or low-traffic areas on the course. In the spring of 2017, Lonnie Poole Golf Course, located at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, partnered with BASF Living Acres to plant approximately 750 milkweed plants and wildflowers in 15 native areas around the course to provide food and habitat for monarch reproduction. Volunteers, including BASF employees, assisted with planting these plots, and later released newly emerged monarchs onto the golf course.

As a Certified Silver Audubon Signature Course, Lonnie Poole GC is in an ideal location. It is committed to preserving the native habitat, and it’s a model for the first of what may become many Monarch Challenge courses.

More golf courses can take part in the Monarch Challenge. To learn more about Living Acres and to download a brochure, visit agro.basf.us/sustainability.

Renee J. Keese, Ph.D., is BASF Biology Project Leader, Turf and Ornamentals.

Photo: BASF

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