Certified Monarch Waystation at Reedy Pond
Jason Sharer was inspired to create a public butterfly garden in our area. He has worked with The Woodlands Township and Boy Scout Troop #204 to identify a site, design a garden, and select and obtain the best species of milkweed and other nectar plants for our area. Monarch caterpillars feed only on milkweed, and they also need milkweed to lay their eggs. It is currently very difficult to find native milkweed seed or plants for sale to the public. Two local area nurseries, Plantonic Friends Nursery in The Woodlands and Plants For All Seasons off TX-249, were willing to sell Jason a few varieties of pesticide-free milkweed seedlings/plants. The garden was planted at Reedy Pond Park in Indian Springs in two phases. In October 2017, a mix of Texas/Oklahoma wildflowers and a Palo Verde tree were planted. In March 2018, three species of milkweed were planted. In May 2018, the area was recognized by Monarch Watch as a Certified Monarch Waystation.
The monarch butterfly population has declined 80% over the past two decades. Texas lies directly in the migration path of the monarch butterflies between the northern US/Canada and their overwintering site in Mexico. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently studying whether the monarchs belong on the endangered species list. A decision is expected in June 2019.
Early conservation can turn things around for a declining species. Jason started helping on a conservation project as a citizen scientist. His group recorded the number and height of milkweed plants and the number of eggs, instars and butterflies present in the butterfly garden at Dennis Johnston Park along the Spring Creek Greenway. The data was entered into citizen scientist databases and submitted to Journey North, Monarch Watch, Monarch Health and the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project.
As the monarchs start migrating again through Texas, they will find one more habitat in their migration path. This initiative is in line with The Woodlands Township Board’s April 2018 proclamation in support of the Monarch Butterfly Pledge to help restore the habitat for the monarch butterfly population. It will also be a nice area for the public to enjoy as well.