A middle school from Irmo received a $2,500 grant to study the relation between Monarch butterflies and milkweed flowers.
The study was performed by South Carolina students together with their science teacher. Results show that the development of commercial and residential areas has limited the zones where the flowers grow. Another factor involved is the use of herbicides.
Monarchs are now in danger to disappear from the region, as the caterpillars only eat milkweed plants.
This species of butterflies have one of the most spectacular migrations. They breed in the US and southern Canada during spring and summer; in the fall, they start to migrate to Mexico, from where they return at the beginning of the next year’s season.
In 2010, The World Wildlife Fund recommended monitoring closely and protecting the monarchs.
Dangers to their environment being considered, Irmo’s students decided to get involved. Thus, children planted in the school’s garden two species of milkweed. The flowers attracted the butterflies and students started to observe them carefully.
Then, for over two years, students gathered data on monarchs. Their teacher says the findings were congruent with the latest information on butterflies’ plight.
It seems that the recent decline in the butterfly population in the last years would indeed make monarchs become an endangered species.
After analyzing the results of their monitoring, students decided to take matters into their own hands and find a practical way to prevent the disappearance of butterflies from their region.
One of the measures adopted by the students is informing the community about the monarch butterflies. Therefore, they made a website for the project, started collaborations with state institutes and local agencies and even produced a movie showing their work.
They also made public the planting instructions for the three species of milkweeds and distributed information on how the plant and the butterfly are connected.
A second one was to offer milkweed to the locals for them to plant it. Children started to plant milkweed seeds in the school’s greenhouse and tend them until they grew old enough to be replanted.
And now, students plan to plant themselves the largest plot of milkweed flowers in South Carolina.
School representatives say that, besides the valuable discoveries on the monarch species, the project helped students to learn more about plant growth and horticultural opportunities.
Another positive result for children is that science work encouraged them to collaborate and to develop essential scientific skills.
Image Source: Pixabay
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