Downers Grove Park District intern creates monarch butterfly waystation

DOWNERS GROVE – Nicole Klatchko, a natural resources intern at the Downers Grove Park District, has developed a monarch way station for butterflies visiting Downers Grove.

Monarch butterflies annually migrate thousands of miles through Canada and the U.S. to reach Mexico for warmer temperatures during the winter, a news release stated. To make the journey, monarchs need vital resources to produce multiple generations of butterflies and sustain their migration. Monarch way stations provide food, water and shelter.

Entering her senior year in environmental science at Dominican University, Klatchko helped the district become a certified monarch way station through Monarch Watch, a nonprofit education, conservation and research program that focuses on the monarch butterfly, its habitat and spectacular fall migration. To participate in the monarch way station program, gardens must meet guidelines for size, exposure, shelter, milkweed and nectar plants, and management measures to sustain the site.

Monarch butterflies, Illinois’ state insect, thrive in native landscape and rely on milkweed and other nectar plants for food and as host plants for larvae.

“Monarchs are essential to the health of our planet,” Klatchko said in the release. “There has been a significant decline in migratory habitats over the last few decades, and it’s important to reestablish these sites for monarchs to refuel, rest and repopulate during their migration.”

She chose an existing garden at the Downers Grove Park District’s administrative office as an ideal location for the way station. Located at 2455 Warrenville Road, it includes the landscaping on the north side of the property.

“The administrative office was already home to many native pollinator plants,” Klatchko said. “After clearing out some of the invasive plants, I was able to add some new butterfly milkweed and common milkweed for the monarchs to enjoy.”

Klatchko plans to install a butterfly puddler at the way station. The birdbath filled with sand and water will provide a safe landing place for monarchs to hydrate.

“Creating this habitat during my internship at the park district was a great learning experience,” she said. “I’m excited to begin welcoming traveling monarchs to the new way station this summer.”

The park district site is one of 45 monarch way stations registered in Downers Grove. For families or organizations interested in creating a monarch habitat, go to monarchwatch.org. To learn more about monarchs in Illinois and enhancing or creating monarch habitats, go to illinoismonarchproject.org. For information on the Downers Grove Park District, go to dgparks.org.