Royalty on the Wing: Monarch Waystations

This spring Roosevelt University’s Schaumburg Campus was recognized as a Monarch Waystation. This certification indicates that RU is dedicated to creating and maintaining a healthy environment not only for the RU community, but the entire biotic community. This accreditation has gone hand and hand with the ongoing transformation of the Schaumburg Campus to native prairie plants and trees. The main requirement for the award is to provide adequate food for the Monarchs (Danaus plexippus), and Monarchs like to eat one thing above all else: milkweed. Specifically, Asclepias syriaca or (Common) Milkweed is their main food source, accounts for 90 percent of their diet, and it also provides Monarchs with an added defense: it makes them poisonous to predator such as birds and other small animals. The Monarchs need all the Milkweed they can get, not only because it is their main food source but because the need a series of Waystations through the entirety of their habitat from Southern Canada to Northern Mexico a distance of roughly 3,000 miles.  It should be mentioned that the toxicity of Monarchs’ is not enough to kill a bird such as the American Robin, but it makes Monarchs unappealing as a food source. Milkweed is also to thank for the brilliant coloring of Monarchs throughout their lifecycle, which is an advertisement of the poison.  This colorful warning is so effect that another butterfly the Viceroy (Limenitis archippus) has evolved to mimic the Monarch’s coloring even though it isn’t poisonous. So come take a layover this summer at RU in Schaumburg we encourage you to enjoy and utilize the prairie restoration at the Schaumburg Campus, by taking a walk on ‘The Prairie Walk’.  Who knows, maybe you’ll see some Monarchs touching down at a Waystation during their epic 3,000 mile migration and be inspired to create your own Waystation.

Monarchs above.


The Viceroy( above) can be distinguished from the Monarch by the black bow shaped band on their inner set of wings.

 

~Author, Nicholas Waskowski~

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