Michigan Teens Build Butterfly Houses and Plant 26,000 Native Plants through the Zaagkii Wings and Seeds Project

Jim Hayward shows bees to teens photo

photo: Greg Peterson

The hundreds of thousands of Monarch butterflies that migrate through Michigan's Upper Peninsula en route to Mexico every year can thank Marquette teens and the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) youth for their future survival. As part of the Zaagkii Wings and Seeds Project in Marquette they are protecting these and other pollinators dying across the world, especially in the Midwest, with Colony Collapse Disorder. Check out how these teens reached out to help our critical pollinators survive.Marquette teens and Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) youth spent this summer building the first of dozens of butterfly houses and planted 26,000 native plants as a part of the Zaagkii Wings and Seeds Project.

Marquette teens build butterfly houses photo

photo: Greg Peterson
New Butterfly Houses
The white cedar butterfly houses were put up this fall in Marquette and Baraga counties. Lined with bark and slimmer than birdhouses, the shelters offer protection, rest, and reproduction safety to Monarchs and other butterflies. These houses are important as hundreds of thousands of Monarchs "stop and rest" on the Stonington Peninsula before joining 3 million Monarchs from across North America in their annual migration to Mexico.

Restoring Native Plants to Lake Superior
Another important part of the project is restoring native plants to the once-barren and polluted Sand Point, a Lake Superior beach that the KBIC is restoring from the effects of old copper mining waste. Marquette teens planted over 26,000 native species in seed trays and many of those will be transplanted at Sand Point in the spring of 2009. Native plants are important for local pollinators that can be fooled by imported vegetation resulting in death or eggs not hatching. These plants will help pollinators recover due to the shocking death of billions of honeybees across the Midwest and around the world.

Stopping Colony Collapse Disorder
While bees are the best known pollinators, butterflies are a close second in transferring pollen from one plant to another. Though experts are unsure why honeybee colonies are collapsing, pesticides, climate change, and other man-made impact are among the suspected causes. The loss of these pollinators is alarming because without them the world food supply will dry up including fruits, vegetables, flowers, other plants, and trees. As honeybees vanish, the US Forest Service (USFS) is also worried about the decline in bumblebees including two species that have gone extinct. The USFS says the public can help protect pollinators by being careful about what type of insecticides are used and reducing the amount of chemicals that they use for gardening and lawn control.

Skip the Pesticides
We are more obsessed with our lawns than ever. And it seems the smaller that little green patch, the more positively obsessed we are with keeping it neon green. But it is possible to keep your lawn healthy without the use of tons of pesticides and chemicals. Most Americans use too many fertilizers and chemicals in their gardens and lawns, which ends up as runoff and contaminates our eco-system. Instead, spread one quarter inch of compost or organic fertilizer on your lawn each fall. Do it yourself to ensure that no chemicals or non-organic fertilizers are used.

Learn more about saving honey bees:
Eat Häagen-Dazs, Save Bees
Beeologics To Save US Honeybees With New Anti-Viral Medicine —— Have a Colony To Share?
Honey Bee Mystery Solved?

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