Greensburg and Ligonier programs highlight importance of monarch butterflies
With its distinctive orange and black markings, the monarch butterfly is easily recognized when it flies around the garden.
Monarchs play an important role as pollinators because they feed on the nectar of many types of flowers. They are also important in various religious and cultural traditions.
The Hopi butterfly dance is a petition for rain, good health and long life. Blackfoot people associate butterflies with sleep and dreams. Butterflies play a role in Tohono O’odham’s creation story.
Mexican folklore says that the monarchs arriving during the celebration of the Day of the Dead are the souls of deceased relatives who return to offer comfort to the living.
In Christian tradition, the butterfly is a symbol of rebirth.
Due to habitat loss, climate change and the use of pesticides, the monarch population has fallen precipitously in recent years. In December 2020, the US Fish and Wildlife determined that the monarch was a candidate for possible future listing under the Endangered Species Act.
These upcoming programs will celebrate the monarch and provide participants with information about its importance to the ecology of the Earth:
• Butterfly press releases, 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on August 13 in the Lefevre Butterfly Garden at the Greensburg Garden Center, behind the Greensburg Garden and Civic Center, 951 Old Salem Road.
Butterflies are free for this year’s outings, thanks to funding from the Westmoreland County Community Foundation Second Chance Fund.
The fund provides for 200 butterflies, available until all have been booked, said garden center president Carla Rusnica. Reservations are available by calling 724-837-0245.
The event will include a market for items related to butterflies and displays of books and other educational materials. Hot dogs will be available for purchase and Turner Dairy Farms will provide free lemonade.
Diana Sanner from Murrysville will give a short puppet program on the life cycle of the monarch. Sanner will have butterfly cutouts attached to sticks for children to color in.
“His speech is aimed at children, but adults will appreciate it too,” Rusnica said.
Penn State Master Gardeners will be available in the garden to give advice on growing pollinator plants to attract butterflies.
The garden, which has a new waterfall feature, “is spectacular this year,” said Rusnica.
People who do not wish to participate in the outing are also welcome. And there’s a trick to making the butterflies shine on you once they’re released – just dab some vanilla behind your ears, Rusnica said.
• Monarchs, milkweeds and more, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on August 29 at the Musée d’art des Alleghenies du Sud-Vallée in Ligonier, off Route 711 south of Ligonier.
The family event is designed to educate all ages about the various pollinators and native flora.
Penn State Master Gardener Patti Schildkamp will discuss monarch butterflies, nectar plants and more. Environmentalist Timothy Savisky will talk about the insects that use milkweed during a field trip with Anne Clark, gardener from SAMA-Ligonier VAlley. Melissa Reckner of Penguin Court will highlight the life cycle of the monarch butterfly and tag certain butterflies to watch their journey.
Children’s activities will include making art and planting milkweed and other pollinating plants that they can take home.
A group of outdoor painters from the region will offer for sale works painted previously and on site during the event.
The finalists of a photography competition organized by Penguin Court and Westmoreland Pollinator Partners will be on display in the museum and prizes will be handed out during the afternoon.
The event, presented in conjunction with Penguin Court and Brandywine Conservancy, is free, although the museum encourages a donation of $ 10 per family to support the museum gardens.
Registration is encouraged, but not required, to help museum staff prepare for visitor numbers.
Details: 724-238-6015 or sama-art.org