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The temperatures are starting to drop, and the Monarch butterflies are working their way south. Generally speaking, the Monarchs start funneling into the Dallas area the second week of October, and peak the third and fourth weeks of October. Currently, the sightings are concentrated west of the DFW, but as the month progresses, the sightings will shift east and the I-35 corridor becomes very noticeable for sightings. Monarchs are very unique in that they are the only butterfly to have two-way migration, with some migrating more than 3,000 miles. (https://maps.journeynorth.org/map/?map=monarch-peak-migration&year=2018)
Dallas is right in the path of this migration as the Monarchs head for the Oyamel forests in the mountains of Mexico. The Monarchs need a lot of energy to make this journey south. With their straw-like “proboscis”, the adult Monarchs live on a primarily liquid diet of water, nectar and juices of fruit pieces they may find. To that end, the Dallas Park and Recreation Department tries to provide a variety of habitat components for the Monarchs and other pollinators. There are garden beds with a wide variety of native, nectar producing plants, pollinator specific flower beds with species selected for optimum nectar production in the Dallas area, and we avoid mowing many of the natural and prairie areas found in Dallas parks. Some of these areas will be mowed following the migration.
Dallas Park and Recreation Department actively monitors the biological diversity of your parks with citizen scientists, utilizing the online iNaturalist technology. For the last two years, Texas Discovery Garden, with the help of the North Texas Master Naturalists, have been working on a 23 acre prairie restoration effort at Harry S. Moss Park. On Oct. 20th, we welcome everyone to come out and see the effort that has been put into the area, and participate in the Dallas Pollinator BioBlitz. This is part of the statewide Texas Pollinator BioBlitz running from Oct. 5th-21st. We will start onsite registration at 11:30, and start the data collection at 12:15. The event is appropriate for all ages. For more information, please see the Urban Biologist website or email UrbanBiologist@dallascityhall.com