Monarch butterflies begin to migrate through the Lone Star State, which has many native plants that can nourish them on their journey.
The New Braunfels Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas will sell native plants on October 9 for the Monarch Festival in Fischer Park. The sale starts at 10 a.m. and the festival starts at 11 a.m.
The festival celebrates the migrating monarchs who began to migrate across Texas. The event includes fun activities for kids, such as tagging monarchs to track their migration.
Monarchs migrate from the northeast and descend to southwestern Mexico to spend the winter in the warmer rainforest. They then return in the spring around March and April.
New Braunfels nonprofit chapter president Jenelle VanMatre said native plants are “host” plants for monarchs in that they provide certain nutrients that butterflies need.
She said she saw her first monarch in a while in her backyard the other day, and the next two weeks or so, they’ll be passing through Texas.
“They have the nutrients they need that non-native plants, especially crepe myrtle, and other things that aren’t native to Texas don’t have,” VanMatre. “We are trying to encourage people to plant host plants that will feed the caterpillars. Milkweed is one of the most common among monarchs. The only thing the monarch caterpillars will eat is milkweed.
Native plants also produce pollen that butterflies and other pollinators shed and require much less water than non-native plants, VanMatre said.
“Basically, in big box stores like Lowes and Home Depot, about ninety-five percent of the plants they sell are not native to Texas and are native to China, Asia or elsewhere,” therefore they do not benefit any insects in wildlife or birds. or none of that.
The Plant Sale offers almost 60 different plant species, with around 350 individual plants to choose from.
Four-inch plants cost $ 3, quarts $ 6, and gallons $ 8. People can also buy several plants at a reduced price.
Since milkweed plants are hard to find and have a long taproot, they are priced a bit higher at $ 12 per gallon.
Examples of native plants include turkscap, autumn sage, Maximilian sunflower, and seaweed.
The New Braunfels chapter started in 2019 after the plant society was formed at Canyon Lake and members wanted a chapter closer to New Braunfels.
The non-profit organization promotes the purchase of native plants, conservation research and habitat education awareness.
Due to excessive pesticides and habitat destruction, pollinators such as monarchs cannot feed on these native plants.
“They cut down the rainforests and therefore they destroy the places where the butterflies would hang out,” VanMatre said. “Also, along their migratory route with the increase of non-native plants and pesticides, it kills beneficial plants and they don’t get food to make the trip, so they don’t even make it. “
Besides monarchs, bird populations are also in decline as the destruction of plants kills the caterpillars that birds feed on.
Without monarchs, there will be no pollination as they travel and shed pollen to grow future plants.
VanMatre said the destruction of the environment affects all aspects of the ecosystem.
“All of those things are in decline because of pesticides and things that kill beneficial insects,” VanMatre said. “If we don’t protect them, there won’t be monarchs.