Cool Creek Park and Nature Center informs attendees on monarchs, milkweed

By Anna Skinner

Amanda Smith pauses by some monarchs in the nature center. (Photo by Anna Skinner)

Amanda Smith pauses by some monarchs in the nature center. (Photo by Anna Skinner)

On Sept. 24, Cool Creek Park and Nature Center hosted the first of what it hopes to be many events encouraging the planting of natural, untreated milkweed to attract monarch butterflies to native Indiana plants.

“We are trying to connect people back with native plants, and if we want butterflies, we need to plant what they eat,” said Amanda Smith, superintendent of natural resources and education. “Caterpillars aren’t the prettiest form of a butterfly, but in order to have a butterfly, we need to have a caterpillar eating native plants. Monarchs are 90 percent declined in the last 20 years. We are really in danger of a regional extinction.”

Monarch declination is caused by various reasons, including deforestation and purchasing pesticide-treated plants that cause death in butterflies, bees or other insects that land on them. Monarchs migrate to Mexico in the winter, making them one of the more unique insects.

“We can help in our yards by planting milkweed and getting that plant back into the yard ecosystem,” Smith said. “It’s a really great pollination plant for bees and other things as well. There’s a lot of good things in that plant.”

The park donated 100 plants to those who attended to take home and plant and also gave away milkweed seeds. Cool Creek plans to sell various native plants for people to purchase and know the plants are untreated and pollinator friendly.

“We will ideally have 10 different native plants that people can come and buy and know they came froma  trusted grower that hasn’t treated them,” Smith said.

Children’s crafts were available throughout the educational event, and two authors of insect books spoke. Mayor Andy Cook also spoke at the event.

For more, visit hamiltoncounty.in.gov/296/Parks-Recreation.