MONROE TWP. — While the migratory population of the eastern monarch butterfly is on the decline, one Tipp City woman is on a mission to boost their numbers, building a butterfly house and turning a portion of her property into a wildlife habitat.
Lisa Reinhard of Tipp City opened Cedar Springs Pavilion, an outdoor wedding venue in Monroe Township, six years ago. In that time, Reinhard has been working to attract native wildlife to the 17-acre property.
“It’s always been in the back of my mind that, when I built this wedding venue, I also wanted it to go hand in hand with conserving and preserving nature,” Reinhard said. A handful of birdhouses, placed a few years ago, have just started to house bluejays, she added. “It just keeps getting bigger and bigger every year.”
Last year, Reinhard heard about the Conservation Reserve Program and decided to dedicate seven acres of her property to the program as an Ohio wildlife habitat for the next 10 years, mainly in an effort to encourage the monarch butterfly population.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service, the monarch butterfly is currently being considered for protection under the Endangered Species Act. The reason for their flagging numbers is mainly habitat loss and the eradication of milkweed with pesticides, Reinhard said. Milkweed is the only thing monarch caterpillars can eat, making it absolutely essential to the survival of the species.
The program is administered by the United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency. In exchange for a yearly rental payment, landowners enrolled in the program agree not to use portions of their properties and plant species that will improve the local environment. Reinhard said the payment’s not much, but the satisfaction of knowing she’s doing something good for the environment alone would be worth it.
With the help of the agency’s Miami County office, Reinhard is trying to turn seven acres of her property into a paradise for monarchs, constructing a butterfly house and planting milkweed.
No butterflies will be shipped in to stock the butterfly house — this project is all about letting nature take it’s course, she said.
As more monarchs arrive on the property, she plans to collect the eggs they lay on milkweed leaves and move them into the butterfly house, an airy metal structure covered in netting, to keep them safe from birds and other insects. The house will be filled with more milkweed and also features a pond stocked with koi fish.
A hand-painted sign at the door of the house bears the name of Reinhard’s granddaughter Ava, who is one of her inspirations for the project. She hopes her efforts preserve the butterflies so Ava’s generation can enjoy them as much as she did growing up.
“They were everywhere when I was a kid,” she said. “Now you hardly see them.”
Reinhard plans to open the house to the public within the next two years. She wants to be able to offer tours and educate others about butterfly conservation.
She became fascinated with the famous black and orange butterflies after reading an article about their unusual migration pattern.
“I just fell in love,” she said.
In September, eastern populations of monarchs begin their migration from southern Canada and the United States to Mexico, where they arrive in November. They begin their return trip in March, arriving back where they started in July.
No individual butterfly completes the entire round trip — four generations are involved in the whole cycle as butterflies stop along the way to reproduce. Ohio, Reinhard said, is one of the places monarchs stop on their journey.
Monarchs are already showing an interest in the venue’s flower beds, which are mostly planted with butterfly attracting flowers. They’re not the only non-human visitors — the area is also frequented by other pollinators, songbirds and hummingbirds, deer and many more native animals.
Reinhard also has plans to turn part of the property into a habitat for native turtle species. They will join the native fish already inhabiting the pond.
“I’m all about Ohio native species,” she said.
Fore more information about the Cedar Springs Pavilion butterfly house and conservation efforts, visit www.cedarspringspavilion.com or find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cedarspringspavilion.
Reach Cecilia Fox at firstname.lastname@example.org.