Creating a monarch highway
Each fall millions of monarch butterflies migrate from Canada and the eastern US to central Mexico.
"The monarch is the only insect that migrates like this," says John Drummond, General Biology Laboratory coordinator at Lafayette College. To celebrate the monarch's migration, the Gertrude B. Fox Environmental Center at Illick's Mill partnered with WDIY to hold a Butterfly Bash followed by a sold out Butterfly Ball in the evening.
The event marked the opening of a butterfly display that will be at the Environmental Center through Thanksgiving said Karen Dolan, the Center's executive director.
Both events were a celebration of nature and culture focused on the monarch butterfly's migration to Mexico. The butterfly bash was a family event. Visitors sampled various types of Mexican food while doing arts and crafts or participating in games and activities coordinated by Radio Disney.
The Butterfly Ball offered an authentic Mexican banquet while guests listened to Latin music by Juan Carlos Sanchez.
But the highlight was the tagging and releasing of butterflies. Drummond explained that tagging the butterflies and recording sightings enables researchers to monitor their migration. The overall migration advances at 25 - 30 miles per day. After everyone had properly tagged their butterflies, they counted to three and let them go.
"If there is one thing that I want people to learn, it's the importance of milkweed," says Drummand. "Milkweed is the only thing monarch larva will eat. No milkweed, no butterflies."
Money raised by the event will go to planting milkweed and other native plants that adult butterflies will eat along the Monacacy Creek.
"We want to create a monarch highway in Bethlehem," Dolan says.