The South Padre Island Birding & Nature Center is thrilled to announce that we now have a certified Monarch Waystation on our grounds thanks to local soon to be Eagle Scout, Travis Camacho of Boy Scouts Troop #59. Over the course of the last month, Travis, along with some help from his fellow Boy Scouts troop, have planted a 60 square yard Monarch Waytstation following the guidelines provided by MonarchWatch.org, a non-profit organization committed to the conservation of the Monarch butterfly and its migration. This Monarch Waystation will provide important habitat for migrating Monarchs as they pass through our area on their way to and from wintering grounds in central Mexico. The “Troop #59 Monarch Waystation” was installed in a once was open lawn in front of our building. The area receives plenty of full sun throughout the day and also has some protection against harsh wind, two very important details to keep in mind when choosing a location for a butterfly garden, especially along the coast. Using just shovels and sheer strength, the Boy Scouts ripped the lawn from the plot (a large plot by MonarchWatch’s standards) and then tilled and fertilized the soil using natural organic compost they had delivered by a local supplier. Before planting, a drip irrigation system was installed to allow for easy and convenient watering of the area and to ensure that the water provided feeds directly to the plants’ roots. All of the plants used in the waystation are perennials native to Deep South Texas. Choosing perennials affirms that the plants survive for years to come and choosing natives guarantees that the plants are recognized and used by Monarchs and other local butterflies and pollinators. It is important to include both, nectar plants for adult butterflies, and milkweeds, which are host plants to Monarchs (caterpillar food). Nectar plants that bloom at different times of the year were used to ensure flowers during the fall and spring migration seasons and into the summer and winter too. Monarch favorites that grow well along the coast were planted; Betony-leaf Mistflower, Mexican Trixis, spring blooming Boneset mistflower, fall blooming “Crucita” mistflower, West Indian, Texas, and Velvet Lantanas, and other assorted sages and asters.
As for milkweeds, Travis planted Zizotes Milkweed (Asclepias oenotheroides), which is the variety that is native to our area and to South Padre Island. He planted a total of twelve milkweeds. Providing a good number of individual milkweed plants increases the likelihood that Monarchs will utilize the garden while also supplying food for a greater number of caterpillars.
All the plants were planted fairly close to each other to create enough shelter from predators for monarchs in different life stages, but all the while also considering each plant species’ full grown size to prevent crowding. The “Troop #59 Monarch Waystation” should be lush and blooming come fall migration and we can’t wait to see monarchs stopping by for a visit. Travis’ Eagle Scout Service Project will surely help some Monarchs are they struggle against habitat loss, but more importantly, it will serve as a great example for our community and hopefully inspire others to plant Monarch Waystations at their homes, businesses, and cities. This waystation also helps the City of SPI complete another action item from their “Mayor’s Monarch Pledge” list as they continue in their efforts to make SPI a harbor for monarchs in migration! Thank you very much, Travis and Boy Scouts Troop #59!