A giant butterfly is taking shape along Second Avenue.
Brad Graves Landscaping on Thursday was putting the finishing touches on the block outline of the butterfly, the linchpin of a pollinator garden and educational display being developed by Wild Ones Northwoods Gateway Chapter.
The project was made possible by an ongoing fund-raising campaign, with future dollars earmarked toward benches and educational displays. It is located on Johnson Electric Coil property along the city’s Springbrook walking trail.
According to project organizers the garden will serve as an ideal butterfly habitat, with a mix of milkweed and other native plants, in an attractive setting along the popular trail.
While it will be an inviting and valuable spot for monarchs to other pollinators to rest, breed and congregate, it will serve another vital purpose as well—as a display garden for plants native to the area. The flowers and shubbery will all be of the types recommended by Monarch Watch, Wild Ones and the North American Butterfly Association and will include educational labels.
There will be more as well, including an educational kiosk that will feature displays and articles related to pollinators and native plants.
According to the Department of Natural Resources, Wisconsin is in the core breeding ground for the eastern migratory population of monarchs. The state's milkweed feeds and produces several generations of the iconic black and orange butterflies each spring and summer before a final generation of Wisconsin monarchs gorges itself on wildflower nectar and embarks on a 2,000-mile journey to central Mexico where they spend their winter resting in fir trees in the mountains.
These same long-distance fliers begin migrating north in the spring and get as far as Texas before laying eggs and dying. Their offspring take up the journey, and it is mostly this generation of butterflies that reaches Wisconsin in the spring and lays their eggs, beginning the cycle again.
While there are many factors for the decline in monarchs, habitat loss is considered the primary concern in the states where the monarch breeds. Over the past two decades, there has been an over 80 percent decline in the monarch population that breeds in Wisconsin and other Midwestern states.
Northwoods Gateway Chapter continues to seek dollars to complete and enhance the project, Donations may be dropped off or mailed to Butterfly Garden, c/o CoVantage Credit Union, P.O. Box 107, Antigo, 54409. Organizers may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.