Monarch butterflies will have a place to rest on along their epic migration, thanks to the Learning by Leading™ CCUH SmartLawn team, a collaboration between the California Center for Urban Horticulture (CCUH) and the Arboretum and Public Garden. The project focused on installing an irrigation system and planting milkweed in a new Butterfly Study Garden (BSG).
The effort was collaborative, as the team worked with UC Davis researcher, Dr. Louie Yang, who was in charge on the project. The project is essential to helping the monarch butterflies as their historical population average has declined over 95% from 1980 – mid-2010's (Pelton, Schultz et al 2019). The population has further declined to 30,000 this past winter.
The SmartLawn team is helping work towards a solution to increase the butterfly’s population. The site will test two different types of milkweed to see which benefits the monarch butterfly population more, and will monitor the caterpillar's developmental success in this environment. One milkweed is narrow leaf (Asclepias fascicularias) and one showy milkweed (Ascelpias speciosa). The garden offers many opportunities for researchers and students alike, to participate in data collection and interpretation and hands-on maintenance of the space.
Interested in seeing more of the SmartLawn team’s work? You can read this article about their turf installation project here.