11 June 2017

The Monarch: Saving Our Most-Loved Butterfly by Kylee Baumle

"The Monarch: Saving Our Most-Loved Butterfly" by Kylee Baumle has just been released by St. Lynne's Press.

I recommend this wonderful book for classrooms, teachers, scout groups and nature lovers in general.

I've been studying butterflies for at least a decade. Not in an academic sense but from the point of view of a garden writer and gardener. In our yard we call ourselves people who raise butterflies as much as plants. Dozens of plants have been selected and grown here strictly because of their usefulness as butterfly habitat both for nectar and raising caterpillars.

As a result, I have read books and articles as well as taught classes on butterfly lives in an effort to raise awareness of how the plight of butterflies is intricately intertwined with our own fate.

Baumle's book is  a lovely introduction to Monarch Butterflies: Who they are, their life-cycle, the threat to their numbers, how to help and how to connect with others in the community of people who want to make a difference.

There are pages and photos to help readers identify Monarchs and their almost look-alikes such as the Viceroy and Soldier. The chapter on their life-cycle has information that was new to me despite my reading in the past.

Baumle also has photos of the Monarch Caterpillar look-alikes such as the Eastern Black Swallowtail and Queen butterflies.

Monarch on Aster last fall in our garden
The now-famous migration patterns of the Monarch is detailed for you, too. I've noticed that we have at least five times more Monarchs during the fall/winter migration than we have in the spring. I suspect that it's because we don't keep milkweed in a greenhouse for them over the winter but by fall we have plenty of plants for them to make the next generation.

The chapter on milkweed varieties is useful for public gardens and gardeners who would like to make sure they are feeding caterpillars as well as they need to be fed in order to thrive. Instructions on how to grow milkweed from seed, which plants mimic milkweed and which nectar plants are important are in chapter seven.

Chapter eight helps explain why 95% of Monarch caterpillars do not mature: predator insects including: Tachnid Fly, Spined soldier bugs, Paper (and other) wasps, Spiders, and Fire ants.

From page 99 to page 130 the book is loaded with resources for citizen scientists, teachers, and gardeners. Projects listed include rescuing eggs, providing water sources, raising caterpillars, tagging butterflies, and butterfly crafts.

The Monarch: Saving Our Most-Loved Butterfly sells for $12.50 online; it's worth twice that amount if its wide distribution helps save Monarch Butterflies, educate the public about sustainable gardening and opens children's eyes to the wonders of the world outside.




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