When you think about butterflies, the iconic Monarch Butterfly immediately comes to mind. With a wingspan of 8 to 10 centimeters, the Monarch’s brilliant orange with bold black lines is one of the most recognized and appreciated features of the American landscape. Its bright colors are carried from the caterpillar stage to the splendor of the butterfly. The colors also help the Monarch ward off predators with nature’s inherent warning to predators that bright colors mean undesirable taste and deadly, poisonous characteristics. This remarkable butterfly now faces extinction! A twenty-year study clearly indicates the population of Monarch butterflies dropped more than 50 percent west of the Rocky Mountains since 1997 and more than 90 percent east of the Rockies since 1995…from almost 1 billion to a total population of around 100 million.
Monarch Red Carpet is a campaign to increase awareness and promote action to save the Monarch Butterfly among a broader spectrum of society and support these existing efforts. This program encourages business people, families, downtowns, river keepers, lodging and restaurant owners, conservation groups, and others to plant Milkweed gardens to help save the Monarch population and to welcome them along their migratory paths. The Columbia Montour Visitors Bureau is officially participating in the Monarch Red Carpet initiative. They would like to encourage local businesses as well as members of the community to plant a small milkweed garden on their property, as it is the ONLY food for Monarch Butterflies. Columbia and Montour counties are directly on their migration route, so by creating these gardens in our area, the butterflies will have food to breed, grow and travel south. For more info or to participate, visit www.monarchredcarpet.org.