OSWEGO COUNTY – Monarch butterflies were declared an endangered species in July by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. As part of their Pledge to Protect initiative, the St. Lawrence Eastern Lake Ontario Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (SLELO PRISM) is encouraging community members to tack action to protect Monarch butterflies from two invasive plant species that threaten their habitat and life cycle called black swallow-wort and pale swallow-wort.
These invasive swallow-wort species can easily take over habitats in which native milkweed and other pollinator-loving plants grow. They also disrupt the lifecycle of monarch butterflies as being in the same family as native milkweed, monarchs can mistakenly lay their eggs on invasive swallow-worts and the larvae which hatch on swallow-wort rather than native milkweed will die. With the recent endangered status, now more than ever, the impacts caused by invasive swallow-wort plants threaten the survival of the monarch butterfly.
How to Save Monarchs with Your Garden
SLELO PRISM recommends growing native plant species in gardens to support natural pollinators. For the monarch butterfly, this means planting native milkweed in the garden. Native plants like milkweed have co-evolved with monarch butterflies and other pollinators and native wildlife.
Learning to recognize and manage any invasive species such as black and pale swallow-worts is another key step in protecting pollinator habitat. Swallow-worts have unique features to help identify it, such as slender and pointed seed pods, oval- or lance-shaped leaves and flowers with wide dark-purple petals on black swallow-wort or narrow pink petals on pale swallow-wort. Images and details on how to manage these plants can be found at https://www.sleloinvasives.org/support-pollinators/.
Research on Invasive Swallow-wort
In addition to sharing preventive measures to combat these invasive species, SLELO PRISM also hosts the Eastern Lake Ontario Swallow-wort Collaborative (ELOSC). The ELOSC serves as a platform where different stakeholder groups can share research and best management practices to enhance the management and spread prevention of swallow-wort. For more information on this collaborative effort, visit: https://swallowwortcollaborative.org/.
SLELO PRISM developed the Pledge to Protect to share more information on invasive species control with the public. People are encouraged to sign up for the ‘Pledge-To-Protect’ online at iPledgeToProtect.org. At signup, they can select from five areas of action: Lands & trails, gardens, forests, waters and community. After signup, they will receive information each month via email about a different activity they can take to protect the chosen area or areas of action in which they’ve pledged to protect.
For more information on invasive species or other ways to participate with SLELO PRISM in protecting the environment, visit: https://www.sleloinvasives.org/
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