Sunday, September 18, 2011

Monarch Watch Open House

When you think of monarch butterflies the first thing that likely comes to mind is Monarch Watch! This year is Monarch Watch's 20th anniversary and Bob and I flew out to Lawrence, Kansas, to join their celebration last Saturday.

Habitat is everything to monarch butterflies. Create a lush banquet of milkweed and rich nectar and monarchs will be there. Butterflies of every kind were visiting the garden created and tended by Douglas County Master Gardeners at Monarch Watch at University of Kansas. Monarchs were in abundance feeding and laying eggs on multiple milkweed species. No monocultures here!

The Open House draws over 500 children and with parents and other adults, a crowd of 1,000 was possible. Preparations were in the air on Friday morning when we first stopped by. Master Gardeners were tending the garden and helping with flower arrangements.

We jumped in to help. Bob mixed the mixture for seed balls for families to shape and take home then made a few samples.
Dr. Chip Taylor, Director of Monarch Watch, wanted every child who visited to take home a monarch chrysalis.

So Ann Ryan showed us how to tie dental floss on the cremaster so the chrysalis would easily hang for children to watch eclose. We prepared about 200 to get a head start on the day. These small treasures were the hit of the Open House - everyone wanted one to take home!


Volunteers and students arrived to move large pots of  milkweeds and plants available for purchase.

 The weather was just perfect on Saturday for the Open House with sunny skies with highs in the mid-70's. The children loved the many activities set up in the area. In particular the face-painting was a big hit as were the Jayhawks tattoos.

Monarch-related games were busy, too.

 The Biohouse was filled with people exploring the many butterflies and moths in the air.

 Dr. Chip Taylor delighted everyone with tagging demos......

....Then challenged everyone to think about what a monarch would do under water....

Golden moments to touch, feel, and experience nature at her finest!

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