The Dallas Zoo has caught Monarch fever!

Dallas Zoo Monarchs

Operation Pollination at the Dallas Zoo

The Mayors’ Monarch Pledge

Mayor Rawlings signed the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge with the National Wildlife Federation, committing Dallas to actions that will create and restore Monarch habitat in Dallas.  The City is located in one of the major butterfly “highways” that the Monarchs use for their annual migration between the US and Mexico.  In recent decades, their population has declined by around 90%, largely due to habitat loss.  They depend on local food sources and shelter for their survival, and they need our help to make sure that Dallas is a safe haven on their journey.  The Dallas Zoo has heard the call, and is taking action!

The Dallas Zoo is stepping up for Monarch conservation

This year, the Dallas Zoo is asking visitors to pledge to help protect the Monarch butterfly by planting milkweed and reducing or eliminating pesticide use in their yards and gardens.  Their goal is to reach 50,000 personal pledges for conservation action for endangered species and Monarchs!  Talk about Monarch heroes!

Why Milkweed?

Milkweed is vital to the Monarch.  It is the only plant on which they will lay their eggs, and when the caterpillars hatch, this is virtually their only source of food.  Milkweed contains a toxin that Monarch caterpillars incorporate into their wings and exoskeletons, rendering them poisonous to predators as adult butterflies.  Unfortunately, much of their milkweed has been lost as fields are converted to cropland or developed.

The Dallas Zoo to the Milkweed Rescue!

Dallas Zoo Monarchs

Operation Pollination at the Dallas Zoo

Last fall, employees of the Dallas Zoo conducted a milkweed rescue from a site in Arlington that was about to be developed.  Although the odds were against them, since it is difficult to transplant mature milkweed, it worked!

“Our transplanted milkweed plants are emerging now and we are thrilled.  I’m not sure quite yet what the survivability rate will be, as the plants are just now emerging, but we have beautiful, young plants pushing up now.” -Ben Jones, Dallas Zoo

The youth Zoo Corps team has also installed 72 native flowering plants in the children’s zoo.  These provide a source of nectar that the Monarchs use for food, and include:  Purple Cone Flower, Blackfoot Daisy, Pink Rock Rose, Milkweed, Flame Acanthus, Crossvine, Lantana, and Gregg’s Mistflower.  The team distributed 414 “seed bombs” filled with Texas native pollinator seeds.  Each seed bomb has about 6 square inches of impact.  They also installed two hummingbird feeders and one bat box (hummingbirds and bats are also important pollinators).  You can view the pictures here.

You, too, can be a Monarch Hero.  Click the image below to learn how.

Monarch Hero

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