The annual migration of hundreds of millions of monarchs from the United States and Canada to Mexico is a natural wonder that Elmhurst residents can see play out each year. Recently, concern regarding this migration pattern has increased, as the loss of habitat areas for the monarchs has affected their breeding areas and destinations.
Much of the habitat loss is estimated to be due to development and the widespread use of herbicides, both of which lead to the decline of milkweeds and nectar sources which monarchs consume.
Monarch Waystation Habitats help combat these losses by providing necessary resources, like milkweed and nectar producing plants, for monarchs to breed and rest during migration. Waystations can be registered with Monarch Watch, a national conservation organization dedicated to research and preservation of monarchs. In DuPage County there are approximately 173 registered waystations, both on public land and private.
Four waystations are maintained by the Elmhurst Park District. Eldridge Park’s is located on the corner of Butterfield and Spring Roads and was one of the first certified in the area. It was established in 2007 with the cooperation of the Elmhurst Garden Club, three Cub Scout troops and the Park District.
Berens Park and Wild Meadows Trace both are certified and have butterfly friendly plants, including nectar plants and large patches of milkweed. A butterfly garden was planted at Wilder Park Conservatory in 2014 and certified in 2015. It’s located south of the greenhouse and provides tropical milkweed, as well as numerous annual and perennial nectar plants for the migrating monarchs.
2017 marks a special year as Elmhurst Cool Cities is partnering with the Elmhurst Garden Club to celebrate the Year of the Monarch, in an effort to raise awareness about the monarch butterfly. Several events will occur throughout the year, including the upcoming Children's Monarch Festival on Sunday, July 9 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. in Wilder Park. Activities will include crafts, face painting, photo-ops and more. Visit Elmhurst Cool Cities Coalition to learn more and to learn more about the criteria for certifying a monarch waystation, visit Monarch Watch.