(Mission, TX) – In support of Texas’ first, statewide Pollinator BioBlitz, the National Butterfly Center will be hosting a variety of programs to get people outdoors to observe pollinators of all types in yards, natural areas, gardens, parks and community centers. This intensive week of citizen-driven data collection will occur October 7 – 16, 2016, in an effort to bring attention to the critical habitat needs of Monarchs and other pollinators across the state.
The BioBlitz is designed to be fun for all ages, with no experience required. Participants are simply asked to look for pollinators, such as bees, butterflies and moths, and nectar-producing plants; photograph or take video of them; and share their discoveries online via Instagram, using the hashtag #SaveThePollinators. Plant and insect species may be difficult to identify, so observers are encouraged to post what they know. For example, “Small bee on sunflower at Bryan Elementary, Mission,” is fine. More experienced naturalists are asked to record their observations through the iNaturalist application. There is no cost to participate and the only tools needed are a camera or smart phone, plus Internet access.
“The Monarch, our state butterfly, has been chosen as the symbol for the Texas Pollinator BioBlitz because it is one of the most beautiful and recognizable insects on Earth,” explains Marianna Trevino Wright, executive director of the National Butterfly Center. “Unfortunately, numbers of this iconic species have declined dramatically over the last twenty years due to loss of habitat and the disappearance of larval host plants, specifically the milkweeds Monarch caterpillars must consume to become butterflies. For this reason, we will be offering the M3: Monarchs, Milkweed & Me program exclusively for Girl Scouts, Saturday, October 8, from 9 am – 12pm; and the Mission: Monarchs! garden workshop, open to all, Sunday, October 9, from 3 pm–5 pm.”
In addition to the Monarch, thirty species of pollinators have been designated Species of Greatest Conservation Need by Texas Parks & Wildlife. Butterflies, bees and moths, along with bats, hummingbirds, wasps, flies and beetles, are essential to healthy ecosystems and sustain native plant species, human food crops, and crops for livestock. To learn more about the importance of pollinators, sign up to be counted, and locate events across the state, visit the Texas Pollinator BioBlitz website at www.tpwd.texas.gov/pollinators. Sign up for daily challenges that will add to the excitement as everyone works together to increase awareness of our pollinators and the availability of their habitat.
It’s easy to get involved. Individuals and families, schools and clubs are all asked to Join, Observe, Identify and Share this October, which signals the start of butterfly migration season in Texas. Cooler temperatures across the state also alert bees to eat as much as they can before hibernation begins, so it’s the perfect time to enjoy the outdoors and record all of the insects you see.
The National Butterfly Center is committed to ‘Growing Connections’ between people, plants, and the winged wonders that pollinate and propagate all that grows around us. We do this through educational and environmental initiatives that cultivate meaningful understanding of the parties and processes that create sustainable ecosystems. The Center is open to the public, for visitors and members, seven days/week.
To learn more about the National Butterfly Center, and how you can join us, visit www.nationalbutterflycenter.org. Your annual membership or charitable gift impacts the beauty of our community and helps preserve the biologically diverse, natural treasures of deep South Texas.