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Quebec communities help endangered monarchs with butterfly-friendly plants

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Quebec communities help endangered monarchs with butterfly-friendly plants
Plant it and they will come. That is the way of thinking for a growing community of volunteers behind the Butterflyway Project. The group of green-thumbed individuals has been setting its roots in Montreal's off-island communities of St-Lazare and Vaudreuil for the past two years. Global's Brayden Jagger Haines has more – Jul 25, 2022

Plant it and they will come. That is the way of thinking for a growing community of volunteers behind the Butterflyway Project.

The group of green-thumbed individuals has been setting its roots in the off-island cities of St-Lazare and Vaudreuil for the past two years.

“When you plant native plants you see the immediate return,” Catherine Décarie said.

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Décarie is one of the many Butterflyway Project rangers in partnership with the David Suzuki Foundation.

“We have to help these guys. We need to help the pollinators. That’s why we are here,” Décarie said.

The foundation says the Butterflyway Project, which started in 2017, is a volunteer-led movement that’s bringing nature home to neighbourhoods throughout Canada, “one butterfly-friendly planting at a time.”

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“It’s such an easy way to help start a change with climate change. You just plant plants on your property and you know that you’re helping. If everyone had a few plants on their property that would make a huge difference,” Décarie said.

In just two years, Décarie says her backyard garden is a haven for local pollinators, most importantly the monarch butterfly.

The monarch butterfly, one of the most recognizable butterflies on the planet, is increasingly close to being extinct and scientists have now added the insect to the international endangered list.

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Her milkweed plants, only put in the ground two years ago, already have three or four chomping caterpillars every summer.

With the help of volunteer rangers like Décarie, the goal is to establish local “butterflyways” by planting pollinator patches with native flora in neighbourhoods and communities throughout North America.

Décarie says she and her team of volunteer rangers have managed to help spread the word and dozens of native plant species in off-island city gardens.

The local Vaudreuil-Soulanges Desjardins bank branch helped fund the initiative by providing a $5,000 grant for the project.

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The money was used to buy native flora such as lupins, milkweed and black-eyed Susans.

The plants were then given away to budding members looking to participate in the North American-wide initiative.

“People want to help. They want to be a part of the solution. They can feel overwhelmed with all the changes that need to happen around the world and we don’t also have control,” Décarie said.

“Knowing that you can plant a few plants and it makes a difference, that’s what it’s all about. It excites people.”

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“I think it’s a wonderful initiative to help our native pollinators bees and butterflies,” Jenn Hammond said. “I hope my small effort here will help the big picture here.”

Hammond is one of the newest people to brighten up her Pincourt garden with butterfly-friendly plants.

Hammond says doing her part to help the pollinating insects was easy.

“All you need is a small patch in your garden. Even if you don’t have a garden it doesn’t take much to create one and these plants are very, very easy to grow.”

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Hammond is one of a few participating in the project in Pincourt. You can always tell by the baby blue ‘Butterflyway’ sign on their front lawns.

But the number of interested folks is growing in Pincourt since Hammond shared her story on social media.

Now dozens are hoping to get down and dirty planting the vital milkweed plant in their garden, according to Décarie.

“Last summer we got like 50 orders in a span of six weeks. Following that post by Hammond I got 50 orders in three days,” Décarie said.

Overwhelmed by the interest, Décaries says she will be doing her best to keep up with the demand but said she is happy to see the enthusiasm grow.

As for Hammond, she is expecting her first milkweed plants in the coming days and says she hopes to see butterflies making pit stops in her yard soon.

“It makes me feel so happy and so much closer to nature when I see these native pollinators in my garden,” Hammond said. 

Click to play video: 'Butterflies go free'
Butterflies go free

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