SAN ANTONIO – Monarch butterflies are not only beautiful pollinating creatures, they are backbone pollinators.
But Monike Maeckle, founder of the Texas Butterfly Ranch, said monarchs and other pollinators are quickly disappearing due to climate change.
“Monarch butterflies are considered a cornerstone species, so like, if the population goes down, what does that say about everything else?” Maeckle said.
It’s why her organization, the Texas Butterfly Ranch, is trying to raise awareness of pollinator importance and why they are essential to sustaining our ecosystem.
“It’s kind of like, you know, a car, you know, one screw falls out of the car, it’s no big deal,” Maeckle said. “But when all these little screws start to fall out, you’re gonna have a huge car wreck. And that’s kind of where we’re headed right now unless we change things. And monarchs are indicators of a lot of those things -- climate change, weather patterns, you know, pesticide use, habitat destruction.”
During the migration period when monarchs stop in San Antonio on their journey from Canada to Mexico for the winter the organization takes part in tagging and releasing hundreds of monarchs to track the numbers. She said you can think of San Antonio as a hospitality center for the butterflies.
“Everything’s popping out, so it’s good,” Maeckle said. “It’s good for the butterflies. They’re going to have plenty of nectar to fuel their journey and hopefully fatten up so they can make it through the winter. Because that’s their goal right now, is to get really big and fat.”
The Texas Butterly Ranch also hosts an annual Butterfly and Pollinator Festival to raise awareness about monarch preservation. One way you can help is by planting a pollinator garden with drought resistant native flowering plants that’s pesticide free. And since 2018, that awareness has started to pay off.
“We did a program with three hundred for three hundred and we tried to get the community to plant three hundred pollinator gardens percentage-wise for a 300th birthday and we rocked it,” Maeckle said. “I think we got like three or four hundred and seventy five or so butterfly gardens planted. And I think we’re up to like seven hundred now. So there is progress. I mean, it’s slow but steady, and there is.”
This year’s festival will kick off with a parade that everyone is invited to take part in. Maeckle said they will tag and release about 600 butterflies.
The organization is hosting its Butterfly and Pollinator Festival Saturday at Confluence Park, kicking off with a pollinator parade.
If you want to be part of the parade, organizers say to arrive at 9:30 a.m. The parade kicks off at 9:45 a.m., and then at 10 a.m. over 50 educational partners and vendors will be on site, including free kayak rides and then festivities go until 2 p.m.