The monarch butterfly, Danaus plexippus, is well-known for its attractive orange and black coloration and is widespread throughout the United States.
The annual migration patterns of monarchs are unique. They are the only butterflies to make a two-way migration like birds. They cannot overwinter in northern climates. Many migrate all the way to Mexico; some migrate to other parts of the world. September and October are the peak monarch migration months over Daniel Island.
Monarchs have a specific preference in their food source. Adults lay eggs on species of milkweed in the Asclepius genus. The larvae hatch and begin eating the milkweed before creating a chrysalis and becoming the wonderful butterflies we see.
Milkweed is unique in the fact that it contains toxic glycosides that do not harm the caterpillars themselves, but make them unsavory to many predator birds. Their bright coloration warns predators that they are poisonous. Milkweed is an essential plant for pollinator gardens. It is not only the host plant for Monarch butterflies, but it attracts many other pollinators as well.
Unfortunately, with their extensive migration patterns, monarchs need plenty of flowers from which to feed and milkweed plants on which to lay their eggs to continue their line. Sadly, many wildflowers and wild milkweeds have disappeared due to development and use of herbicides on roadsides. This has resulted in the conservation movement of the Monarch Watch Organization to implement the Monarch Waystation Program. The Daniel Island Garden Club has taken on the project of creating one of these much-needed waystations.
The garden club as well as community volunteers maintain the over two acres located in front of Daniel Island School. This parcel is appropriately named the “Osprey Trail” after the school’s mascot and consists of six gardens that showcase a variety of plants that thrive in the conditions of the Lowcountry. The trail is used by the school and is a welcome respite for Daniel Island residents.
A monarch waystation, located adjacent to Daniel Island Drive, was added this season with native pollinators as well as milkweed plants to attract monarch butterflies as they migrate. The butterfly garden also acquired a memorial sundial, gifted by a local family.
In addition, the Osprey Trail added two gifted memorial benches. Anyone interested in purchasing additional memorial benches can contact Tim Firment, Osprey Trail coordinator, at email@example.com
The Daniel Island Garden Club meets routinely with guest speakers, workshops and field trips. New members are welcome to join this volunteer club. No experience is required, and seasoned master gardeners are always willing to share their knowledge.