Fluttering around the Spring Creek Recreational Fund’s (SCRF) Urban Garden Classroom (UGC) are colorful butterflies, bright bumble bees and an assortment of birds. These beautiful creatures are attracted to the UGC because it is a pollinator garden, which is a place where nectar and other pollen sources from plants and trees are found.
Garden Educator, Jacqui Roytman planted sunflowers, milkweed, Nasturtium (edible flowers), English lavender and a variety of other flowers in every corner of the UGC, so that the pollinators (butterflies and bees) have a natural habitat to flourish in. The pollinator garden serves many purposes, it helps reintroduce natural flowers, perennials and other plants to the environment, it allows pollinators to play their crucial role in helping plant reproduction (which provides food sources for both people and plants) and it helps maintain the community’s ecosystem.
The UGC is a certified pollinator habitat by the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, which is a nonprofit organization that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitats. Their name is significant to their causes because it represents the now extinct Xerces Blue butterfly (Glaucopsyche xerces), which is the first butterfly known to go extinct in North America as a result of human activities (forest destruction, tree and plant removal, pollution and more.) Xerces and other organizations promote the creation of pollinator gardens because butterflies and bees are facing extinction because of habitat loss.
One well known pollinator breed is the Monarch butterflies (named as such because they are considered the king of butterflies since they are deemed the most beautiful). Monarch butterflies have bright orange, black and white markings along their wings. This breed of butterfly is one of the many reasons why it’s important to nurture pollinator gardens. According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, monarch butterflies have experienced massive habitat loss due to climate change, the removal of native flora, and pesticides. In the past 20 years, the amount of monarch butterflies have decreased significantly, however, the US Fish and Wildlife Service believes that with the creation and conservation of more pollinator gardens, people can help these butterflies survive.
Monarchs aren’t the only frequent visitor at the UGC. The Papilio glaucus, also known as the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, is a species of swallowtail butterfly that enjoys the flowers at the UGC. The Easter Tiger Swallowtail has pale yellow wings with dark brown (almost black) veins. The females can be identified by a light blue coloring on their hind wings.
For more information about pollinator gardens visit http://xerces.org.
Photos by Amanda Moses