What is “Milkweed for Monarchs”?
In February 2018, The National Capital Area Council will kick-off Milkweed for Monarchs, a massive conservation project to protect and promote sustainable habitat for the monarch butterfly. One of nature’s most recognized and beautiful butterflies, the Monarch has been in decline in recent years, seeing a 1/3 decrease in its “overwintering” count from February 2016 to February 2017. A sign of spring for many, the Monarch is also a vital food source for other animals in the local ecosystem, and consequently, their dwindling numbers could have profound effects on the food chain. Many factors are at play, including environmental considerations and a loss of habitat.
Scouts are looking to help arrest and reverse this trend. The caterpillars that eventually become the monarch depend upon milkweed as their food source. With Milkweed for Monarchs, Scouts will be encouraging not just the protection of existing stands of milkweed, but the planting and cultivation of more of this vital monarch food stuff. How can you help? Simple. Protect milkweed where you see it and plant more. It’s not a difficult plant to cultivate. Because milkweed is a perennial, once you plant it and establish it this spring, your plants will return the following year to help feed the next generation of monarch caterpillars.
What can you do to help?
Take the Milkweed for Monarchs Pledge
- Click here to download the Milkweed for Monarchs Pledge.
- Complete the pledge form.
- Return the pledge to the Marriott Scout Service Center, C/O Stephen Donnelly or email a scanned copy to NCACMonarchs@ncacbsa.org.
- Return your pledge to NCAC to receive your Milkweeds for Monarchs patch and seeds in February for Spring planting!
Join us for the Kick-off Event at the National Arboretum
Milkweed for Monarchs, Inspiring Conservation in Scouts and Their Families, is presented by the National Capital Area Council, Boy Scouts of America and hosted by the United States National Arboretum. Please join us on February 17th from 11am to 12:00pm at the National Arboretum as we celebrate the start of this brand new monarch butterfly conservation program .
The National Arboretum is located at 3501 New York Ave NE, Washington, DC 20002 in the northeast section of Washington, DC, approximately ten minutes from the Capitol Building. There are two entrances: one at 3501 New York Avenue, NE, and the other at 24th & R Streets, NE, just off of Bladensburg Road. Click here to register.
Enter the Milkweed for Monarchs Photo Contest
- Take your best photos of milkweed plants, monarch caterpillars, and monarch butterflies.
- Submit your photos to NCACMonarchs@ncacbsa.org.
- If your photo entry is used in the Scouter Digest, on any NCAC website, or in our marketing materials, or is selected among the top entries, you will be recognized as a Top Monarch.
Proudly Wear the NCAC Conservation Patch
A limited edition NCAC Conservation patch will be available at an upcoming Arboretum event and the NCAC Marriott Scout Service Center for $5 each. Wear it proudly to show your commitment to this vital conservation effort.
If you’re planting outside:
- Plant seeds in moist soil after the threat of frost.
- Plant in soil less than ¼ inch deep and seedlings 6 inches apart from one another.
If starting your plants by planting indoors:
- Start plants in pots using the same planting depth and spacing as if you were planting outside.
- Place seedlings near a window or fan so that their stems are strengthened from air movement.
- Allow 4-8 weeks growing time before moving your plants to ground outside.
To continue growth:
- Water your milkweed plants every few days until each plant grows to a height of 1 foot or taller.
- Group your milkweed in groups of at least 6 plants so that monarch caterpillars have enough food to eat.
- Plant groups of milkweed in several different areas to offer different environments for the plant and monarch caterpillars.
- In the winter, do not cut. Instead, allow some dead plant material to remain for birds and other wildlife to use.
- Once you have established plants, grow new milkweed by taking cuttings and placing them in distilled water for 4 weeks to start new plants. Cuttings tend to be more resilient than seedlings and may produce better results.
Ask your friends and family to join in the effort, for the monarch could use all of our help to bounce back. And don’t forget to record your work to count towards your Student Service Learning!