City staff members hope their efforts make Mansfield a tourist destination for butterflies.
The City of Mansfield took the National Wildlife Federation’s Mayor’s Monarch Pledge to help make the city a better rest stop for monarch butterflies that migrate from all over the United States to Mexico each year.
“The pledge shows our actions as Mansfield to help with the plight of the monarchs,” said nature education specialist Sam Kieschnick. “We are on the migration pathway of the monarchs, all of the ones from the rest of the United States come through Texas on their way through Mexico.”
The pledge asks cities to practice more than 20 actions to help create a better environment for the butterflies, including creating monarch habitats and educating residents.
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Kieschnick said Mansfield is already practicing some of the guidelines including having and sowing more milkweed plants, the only plant monarch caterpillars eat, at Oliver Nature Center, and regular surveying of current wild life.
“If there is not any milkweed, the caterpillars literally starve and there’s nothing for the monarchs to lay their eggs on,” he said.
He said the parks staff has also changed its mowing schedule to allow for more wild flowers to grow for the butterflies.
The National Wildlife Federation says there has been a 90 percent decline in monarch butterfly populations in the past 20 years.
“It really is as they say, ‘The canary in the coal mine,’ ” Kieschnick said. “We’re trying to combat that with our actions.”
What you can do
Kieschnick said there are ways for residents to help the monarchs.
He said a big aid is planting nectar and native wild flowers.
“This gives the migrating monarchs a little bit of fuel as they make their track down to Mexico or back up north,” he said. “Establishing like a little gas station for the monarchs where they can go to fill up with some nectar really helps them along their way.”
Kieschnick also encouraged reducing the usage of pesticides.
“It does kill maybe some of the bad bugs, but it does kill some of the good bugs, too,” he said. “Nature is always trying to work out a balance and when we put some pesticides in those areas it throws out that balance.”
Dustin L. Dangli, 817-390-7770