Greener Village project helps protect the Monarch butterfly

A Fredericton group is hoping to help boost the numbers of Monarch butterflies by setting up a temporary home for the colourful insects.

The Fredericton Community Food Centre is helping protect a near threatened species

The Monarch butterfly is a near threatened species and Greener Village in Fredericton is trying to help conserve them by setting up a Monarch Waystation. (Philip Drost/CBC News)

A Fredericton group is hoping to help boost the numbers of Monarch butterflies by setting up a temporary home for the colourful insects.

The Greener Village Community Food Centre is in the final stages of setting up a Monarch Waystation, as a part of the Mighty Monarch program.

Brandi Riddoch, the research co-ordinator at Greener Village, said she is going to gather some of the orange-and-black patterned butterflies and their eggs on July 1, 2015.

Those will be taken back to Greener Village and put into a specially designed habitat for the butterflies.

Greener Village is using what use to be the butterfly house of an old gardening store and turning it into a habitat strictly for Monarch butterflies. (CBC News)
"People are very excited about it. It's really nice to have that feedback from the community that tells us this is something very important," said Riddoch.

"It's very, very nice to share this experience of the monarch butterfly, and bring attention to it, especially in New Brunswick, because a lot of people aren't aware that it is something that is native to our area."

Monarch butterflies make a 5,000-kilometre journey north from Mexico to North America. Monarchs typically only live two to six weeks and are the only insect in the world known to make such a long migration.

Near threatened status

Monarchs are starting to make a comeback in New Brunswick after their numbers declined in recent years.

The Monarch Watch program is run by the University of Kansas. It helps ensure the species is preserved, as it is near threatened status.

Riddoch has taken what used to be the butterfly house of Greener Village and has turned it into a habitat strictly for the monarch in all stages of its life.

Greener Village has been growing milkweed, which is necessary as it is the only food source for the Monarch butterfly. (Philip Drost/CBC News)
One of the most important elements was growing milkweed, which is the Monarch butterflys' only food source. Organizers have grown three different types of milkweed and plan on using it to attract the monarchs.

The project has been in the works for a few years now, but this will be its first year operating.

Riddoch started on the project in late May. There is still some work to be done, but they are ready to receive the butterflies.

"What needs to happen next is getting the butterfly house finished, especially as the Monarch is getting here next week. So we are making steps to do that."

Once the monarchs are full grown and ready to make their migration back, they will tag and track them to see how many actually make it back to Mexico.

About the Author

Philip Drost

Philip Drost is a reporter with CBC New Brunswick.

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