UW Oshkosh provides habitat for butterflies and pollinators, is a known stopover station for monarch butterflies


While monarch butterflies have been officially listed as an endangered species, the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh continues to do what it can to provide sufficient habitat on the Oshkosh campus.

UWO values ​​its sustainable, eco-friendly practices and its large number of native plants and trees that provide habitat for insects, birds, and animals.

Brad Spanbauer, director of campus sustainability, pointed out that UW Oshkosh has been recognized since 2015 as a monarch resort by Monarch Watch, a conservation group. Milkweed plants are prevalent on campus – they are sought after by monarch butterflies to lay their eggs. When the caterpillars emerge, they begin to eat the leaves of the plant.

Shannon Davis-Foust, a lecturer in biology and environmental studies at UWO, is considered a monarch expert. She said monarchs are just the “poster child” for severe declines in the animal and plant kingdom.

“It’s all connected,” she says.

At the end of July, the monarch butterfly was officially listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Scientists estimate that the population of migrating monarchs has fallen by 90% in recent decades.

Shannon Davis Foust

Problem for monarch species

Davis-Foust said the decline in monarchs is primarily due to the food production system (crops sprayed with pesticides and herbicides) and large expanses of grassland (vs abundant native plants). In southern regions, it also has to do with the negative effects of logging in the forests where monarchs migrate for the winter, invasive species, and climate change.

“One basic thing we can do is buy organic food – it’s good for people and good for the planet,” she said. “Every time you buy something, you vote for the type of planet you want to live on.”

The other thing she recommends is planting native plants. She notes that lawns are the #1 crop grown in the United States

Lisa Mick, campus grounds supervisor, said her teams are doing everything they can to support not only monarch butterflies, but also other varieties of butterflies, bees and other important insects. She said common milkweed grows in places around campus, but many people see milkweed as a weed and not the lifeline plant it is — the only food source for monarch caterpillars.

Mick said insecticides are only used when absolutely necessary. She notes spraying a pine tree near Titan stage that was in imminent danger of dying from scale insects, but the ash trees are being treated for emerald ash borer with an injection method that impacts the boring insects in the plant. And Japanese beetles, affecting many trees and herbaceous plants on campus, are trapped using pheromones that are only desirable to the insect.

“We don’t use any fungicides on campus for diseased plants. If a fungus kills the plant, we remove it and avoid that species,” she said.

Weeds are targeted with plant-specific chemicals and heavy spraying of grass areas is avoided. The chemicals are harmful to bees and potentially to students who visit grassy areas to walk barefoot, play games or sunbathe.

Mick said she thinks UWO has a great opportunity after winning the US Department of Education Green Ribbon Award for Sustainability, to market itself as an attractive campus for families and students who find a respectful environment not only for humans, but also of all insects, birds and mammals – a campus offering a natural and chemical-free environment.

Davis-Foust said people living in the Fox Valley south of Fond du Lac should contact the Wild Ones Fox Valley Area Chapter for help with native plants.

More information on biodiversity regeneration and a video is also available on Doug Tallamy’s Homegrown National Park webpage. Tallamy, an entomologist, ecologist and conservationist, is a professor at the University of Delaware. He advocates for yards that provide habitat for native species.

Its concept of a national park of the land is a grassroots call to action – small efforts by many people – to regenerate biodiversity and ecosystem function by planting native plants and creating new networks. ecological.

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