UT-Dallas 'Butterfly Flutterby' creates rest stop for migrating monarchs

Students planting milkweed on campus to create butterfly habitat
Students planting milkweed on campus to create butterfly habitat

A University of Texas-Dallas landscaping project is replanting areas of the campus with a native plant to create a natural habitat for migrating monarch butterflies.

Dallas is directly in the migration route, which runs from Canada during warmer weather to Mexico in the winter. With three new patches of milkweed planted on the UT-Dallas campus, the butterflies are able to find a place to rest and hatch eggs amid a plant that is also a nutritious butterfly food source, creating instant nourishment for the sprouting generation.

The project was coordinated by the Office of Student Volunteerism, with assistance from greenhouse landscape coordinator Craig Lewis who helped raise the plant. Lewis said the project is already showing signs of accomplishment.

“Last Thursday, I was by myself working and I stopped counting at 200, because all of a sudden [the butterflies] were everywhere,” Lewis said. “That, to me, was success.”

Lewis said the butterflies are most active at sunrise, owing mostly to their biology.

“They depend on solar energy as well as the nectar. They have to dry out their wings, which become moist overnight,” he said. “They come out just after the sun is cresting the trees and they’ll sit on a flower mound. And it’s the only time, I’ve noticed, other than when they’re in flight, when their wings are out.”

Project officials said they expect the butterflies to stop by again in the spring, during their return trip to Canada.

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University of Texas at Dallas

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