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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Monarchs for Monarchs: Milkweed Planting to Continue Over Next Few Weeks on Campus

As the weather warms up (finally), the dedicated Monarchs for Monarchs crew is continuing its quest to make the campus and surrounding area friendlier turf for migrating monarch butterflies.

Preparing plots for native milkweed plants will take place over the next few weeks. Tatyana Lobova, lecturer of biological sciences at Old Dominion University, said the effort has proven complicated because of the cooler weather and the variety of milkweed plants being placed in plots around campus.

"We've had great support and enthusiastic support from the faculty, students and Norfolk Botanical Garden. But the end of the semester is a tough time for extra activities, so hopefully we will attract enough volunteers," Lobova said.

ODU marketing coordinator Leanna Caplan shot and edited a video of the Monarchs for Monarchs team in action.

The Monarchs for Monarchs program is a partnership among the biological sciences department of the College of Sciences, ODU student botanists, the ODU Kaplan Orchid Conservatory, the ODU grounds department and Norfolk Botanical Garden.

Throughout the spring, native milkweed plants will be planted around the campus as part of a national initiative to help migrating monarch butterflies.

The population of these beautiful insects has fallen sharply. Milkweed plants, which are native to the area, provide perfect habitat for monarch butterflies as they complete a multigenerational migration each fall and spring, traveling thousands of miles to and from wintering grounds in Mexico. Milkweed provides both food and habitat for the butterflies, and causes the monarchs - so named because they are considered to be the "king" of the butterflies - to secrete a toxin that makes them poisonous to predators, such as birds.

Monarch butterflies typically don't show up in Norfolk until summer, after these new plants will have taken root and started to grow. The butterflies that arrive here in the early summer are making their way back from their wintering grounds in Mexico. Monarch butterflies also leave and pass through the region during their fall migration south down the Atlantic Coast and west across the Gulf Coast.

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