Now is a perfect time to enjoy our Dallas parks and if you’re luck you might see a monarch butterfly or two, as they make their annual trek back to Mexico. This showy species can be found throughout Dallas and are often attracted to the native plants in our parks.
Monarchs migrate back and forth between Mexico and the Midwest. They travel through Texas along two paths. They either go down I-35 or they travel near the Gulf coast. Dallas is right in the middle of the migration corridor that goes down I-35.
In the Spring, the Monarch typically show up in mid-March and are seen regularly through April. Milkweed flowers appear in the area around the same time and monarchs depend on milkweed for their survival. Monarch caterpillars only eat milkweed plants, making Dallas the perfect place to lay their eggs during their migration. By mid-April we start seeing Monarch caterpillars throughout Dallas. Most of the Monarchs keep moving north, and spend most of the summer it the Midwest.
In August they make their way back to Mexico. In 2015, the peak of the Fall migration was the last week in September and the first week in October. This year, there was a noticeable uptick in sightings of individual, adult Monarchs in Dallas about 2 weeks ago. Over the next week or so, Monarchs should start coming through Dallas as the “Peak” of the migration moves south.
The Dallas Park and Recreation Department is doing its part to help with the fall monarch migration. We’ve started a new rotation mowing schedule on the prairie to help decrease invasive plants, and encourage native plants. Several areas were mowed in late August through September, which allowed for a strong response from our native grasses like Little bluestem. We will hold off on additional mowing from now through mid-October on the prairie to allow for sufficient nectar sources as the Monarchs pass through.
In addition to the new mowing schedule, we’ve planted several pollinator gardens throughout our park system. The gardens include native plants needed to provide energy rich nectar to sustain the monarchs during their long migration.
There are a number of “natural areas” within the park system that typically see a large number of Monarchs. Some of the most significant areas are the prairie remnants around White Rock Lake.
The following parks are also seeing an abundance of monarchs: Crawford, Kiest, Everglade, Lake Cliff, Kidd Springs, RP Brooks, Northhaven Trail Harry S. Moss, Reverchon Park, Bachman Lake Greenbelt, and Mountain Creek Lake.
If you are in the Downtown area, City Hall has a pollinator garden and Pike Park is known for its Monarch sightings. Share your monarch sightings with us by using #DallasParks