ST. CHARLES, Mo. — Using mysterious powers rivaling a GPS, monarch butterflies navigate a landscape more vast than the span of the continental United States. With instinct alone as their guide and in perfect sync, thousands journey through the air each autumn to one particular mountain range in Mexico. It’s a specific roosting site custom-made for their needs.
The showy, familiar orange and black monarchs are the only insects that make this amazing migration. This incredible odyssey goes right through Missouri. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) along with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Missourians for Monarchs, and a host of other partners are celebrating the monarch migration with a special festival of pollinators. Monarch Madness takes place Saturday, Sept. 15, from 10 a.m.—3 p.m. at the DOE Weldon Spring Site Interpretive Center in St. Charles. The event is free and open to all ages.
Though monarchs are the headliners, the Monarch Madness festival will celebrate all pollinating creatures that help our plants thrive. The event is free and will offer an interactive and fun way to learn about pollinator declines and what people can do to help.
The event will also feature kids’ crafts, games, exhibits, native garden demonstrations, butterfly tagging, food trucks, music, and more. Visitors can purchase native plants and get helpful advice on how to grow monarch-sustaining plants at home. Guests can also enjoy viewing and hiking the site’s 150-acre restored Howell Prairie.
Limited parking will be available on-site. Additional parking is available at neighboring Francis Howell High School with a short, half-mile walk along the gravel Hamburg Trail to the site. The Weldon Spring Interpretive Site is located at 7295 Highway 94, approximately two miles south of I-64/40. For more information, call 636-300-2600.
Monarch Madness sponsors include St. Charles County Prks, Missouri Master Naturalists, Missouri Master Gardners, and Great Rivers Greenway.
As monarchs flit from plant to plant in search of food, they spread pollen crucial to the reproduction of their host plants. More than 75 percent of the Earth's flowering plants depend on pollinators. It’s a relationship vital to the survival of each—and us. One out of every three bites of food we eat exists because of pollinating insects.
Pollinator decline in the recent past is a source of growing concern among scientists. It’s estimated that in the last 20 years, monarch populations have plummeted more than 80%. Dwindling habitat for these colorful butterflies is believed to be the source of the drop.
Though the numbers for monarchs may seem grim, people can do something to help. Planting backyard butterfly gardens can help monarch populations recover. Establishing milkweed and nectar plants will also give them a boost on their long journey. Monarch Madness will help visitors learn how they can make a difference. For more information about monarchs, go to https://goo.gl/C8imS5.