Monarchs are one of the many incredible pollinators found in the area surrounding Lansdowne that help to keep the flowers blooming and abundant produce growing. This butterfly is considered to be a “natural wonder” as they are the only species of butterfly to hatch four generations each year. While three out of the four generations have a brief lifespan like other butterflies, the fourth generation lives a staggering nine months!
These butterfly beauties can first be seen at Lansdowne in late summer as they journey to the northern United States and Canada as part of the most spectacular butterfly migration in the world. But monarchs are unable to survive the winter’s cold and each fall these long-lived butterflies stop through the resort once again during their annual 3,000-mile migration back south. Incredibly, this fourth generation of monarchs travel to the species’ ancestral winter home in Mexico, despite the fact that they themselves were not born there and have never been there before.
Throughout their arduous journey, monarchs rely on milkweed plants for survival. Milkweed is the only plant monarchs will lay their eggs on, as well as the main source of food for monarch caterpillars. Late blooming nectar plants are also vital in replenishing the monarch’s energy during their flight back to Mexico.
However, the uptick in herbicides have led to a steep decline in these ecologically-important plants. Estimates suggest that U.S. milkweed plants decreased 21 percent between 1995 and 2013, resulting in a staggering impact on monarch populations.
In recent years, conservationists and butterfly enthusiasts alike have flocked to the monarchs’ aid. One of the ways that people are encouraged to help is by planting pesticide-free milkweed and nectar plants to create monarch waystations. Lansdowne team members are passionate about celebrating the incredible richness of the local land by giving back to the many native plants, insects and animals that call it home. In an effort to help give these butterfly beauties a place to rest their wings, two years ago a monarch waystation was built right on the resort grounds!
To begin, an area was selected that could be dedicated solely for the butterflies, but one that could also be accessible by guests for their education and enjoyment. (This little slice of butterfly heaven can be found by Fanny’s Garden when walking towards the Clubhouse.) Then, soil was added and two types of milkweed frequently found in the area were planted: common milkweed and swamp milkweed.
To further enhance the butterfly-saving efforts, Lansdowne recently collaborated with its partner, Legacy Farms, to build a more robust waystation for this fall’s migration. As a part of Lansdowne’s Heartfelt Hospitality program, team members diligently search the milkweed for Monarch eggs during the migration.
When eggs are found, they are taken inside where they can be nurtured in a safe environment for the four weeks it takes for the eggs to transform into a beautiful monarch. Lansdowne’s monarch madness doesn’t stop there! Director of People Services, Alison Wooten, also has a “Care Team” who watches over the caterpillars until they become butterflies. These butterflies are released during the associates’ monthly heartfelt classes.
All this effort truly pays off for the monarchs. In nature, only about 15% of eggs make it to the butterfly stage. When protected, the success rate is a whopping 95%! All guests are invited to stop by Lansdowne’s waystation to marvel at the migration for themselves. And don’t miss the special “Meet the Monarchs” event each Saturday morning this fall, where members and resort guests can participate in a guided tour of the monarch waystation with Lansdowne’s knowledgeable Event Concierge and Resident Monarch Expert, Caroline Kuhfahl.