Champions of Conservation: The Butterfly Monarchy
With recent studies showing a staggering decline in the western and eastern population of monarch butterflies, a dedicated group of butterfly enthusiasts in Woodside have taken it upon themselves to protect monarch butterflies and other vital pollinators from population declines and help the species recover in numbers. Formed in Woodside in 2021, The Butterfly Monarchy Club is a shining example of how a dedicated group of individuals can have a profound “Butterfly Effect” on the future health and well-being of our ecosystem.
The Monarch Butterfly Crisis
With distinctive orange and black wings and epic migrations across South and North America, monarch butterflies have captured the hearts of nature lovers for generations. However, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, populations have dwindled drastically due to deforestation and destruction of the butterflies‘ natural shelter, plummeting by a staggering 90% across the U.S. since 1992. The monarch’s plight is further compounded by the drastic reduction in milkweed plants, the only host plant the butterfly will accept and the caterpillars’ singular source of sustenance. These plants have diminished by an equal 90%, primarily due to habitat loss and the widespread use of weed killers in domestic and suburban regions.
The Birth of The Butterfly Monarchy
Inspired by the beauty of our community’s abundant surrounding flora and ideal natural setting, a group of Woodside residents and conservation enthusiasts decided to take matters into their own hands! Founding members Pat Dunlop, Lou Anne Brossman, Susan Potter, and Molly French established The Butterfly Monarchy Club with a clear goal in mind: to foster community involvement and education for the well-being and preservation of all pollinators, with a distinct focus on monarch butterflies. The Club’s mission statement, “celebrating the life of butterflies through education and preservation,” encourages, but doesn’t require, members to plant milkweed to help the population recover while educating others about these essential pollinators.
Milestones and Broadened Horizons
Comprised almost entirely of Woodside residents, The Butterfly Monarchy Club holds meetings in the community’s scenic Butterfly Park, formally released in July of 2022 within Woodside’s newly developed Bristlecone neighborhood. In collaboration with Woodside’s Development team and President of Administration, Diana Peters, The Butterfly Monarchy is actively involved in the Park’s care throughout the year, sharing insights and offering advice on how to optimize it as the ideal habitat for butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds alike.
Thanks to the diligent efforts of the Club’s members, the Park was designated a Certified Butterfly Park and Monarch Garden in 2023 by the North American Butterfly Association (NABA), and the Club became the first Chapter in South Carolina of the NABA. Known as the Central Savannah River Area (CSRA) Chapter, this affiliation opens new avenues for support and broader reach to extending communities beyond Aiken.
The Butterfly Monarchy Club isn’t just a local initiative, as founding members have been invited to speak at various meetings and gatherings throughout the region, where they share knowledge and raise awareness about the importance of pollinators. The club has participated as an educational exhibit at various events, including garden clubs, schools, and Aiken’s recent Earth Day Festival in April. Regular meetings at The Reserve Club are a staple for The Butterfly Monarchy Club, where board members offer attendees information on subjects like attracting pollinators to your garden and the fascinating life cycle of the butterfly. This hands-on involvement is critical in contributing to the larger scientific understanding of these vital pollinators and fostering a rich learning experience for novice enthusiasts. Today, there are over 225 people on the Butterfly Monarchy’s distribution list and counting!
Camaraderie and Conservation
The decline of monarch butterflies is a pressing concern, but with groups like The Butterfly Monarchy Club taking flight, there’s renewed hope for the survival of monarchs and all pollinators! If you’re eager to learn more about these fascinating creatures, passionate about conservation, or simply want to get involved in the efforts to save the butterflies and other pollinators, The Butterfly Monarchy Club welcomes you with open wings.
Visit their Facebook page below to stay updated on upcoming meetings, events, or to connect with members!