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The signs of spring are here. Trees and flowers are blooming, bringing color and allergies to life. Frogs are singing every evening, and butterflies will soon be flitting through the warm spring air. Although butterflies are a sign of spring and summer, the number of butterflies in Arkansas is declining due to a loss of habitat and pesticide use. However, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) has some ways for Arkansans to help, and there are events in Arkansas to learn about butterflies this spring.
The Monarch and Pollinator Conservation Program from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has several different initiatives to help the butterfly population. This spring, as you’re planning and planting your garden, take the butterfly population into account by adding plants and flowers that attract butterflies. Native Gardening for Arkansas Pollinators is a handy online brochure that lists plants and flowers that are native to the state. Learn in which seasons the flowers bloom, and which species they benefit, including butterflies, bees, moths and hummingbirds.
The next initiative promotes citizen science and is great to tackle as a family, a class or school club, or a Girl Scout/Boy Scout troop. The iNaturalist project is a worldwide, online collaboration spearheaded by National Geographic and the California Academy of Sciences. The website and app allow you to report your observations of plants and animals to various projects, where the data can be used by scientists.
Visit the Hobbs State Park Conservation Area to learn more about the different types of butterflies in the state.
One of these projects is the Arkansas Monarch Mapping Project. The project is an effort by the Arkansas Monarch Conservation Partnership, a group of nonprofits, universities, state agencies and cities working together to conserve monarchs in the state. The map contributes to understanding the distribution of monarchs in Arkansas. If you see a monarch or identify a monarch caterpillar or egg, you can record your observation on iNaturalist, where it will automatically be added to the map. Photos are also welcome. If you don’t want to sign up for an account, you can choose to send your observation to Allison Fowler, Wildlife Diversity Program Biologist at AGFC, through an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you spot a monarch caterpillar, you can report the sighting to iNaturalist to contribute to the Arkansas Monarch Mapping Project.
The next project is through University of Arkansas professor Dr. Erica Westerman. Dr. Westerman is an integrative biologist interested in how the environment influences behavior, social interactions and community composition. Westerman Lab focuses on integrative animal behavior. Anyone can be a part of the research by visiting the Botanical Gardens of the Ozarks and participating in the butterfly checklist activity, which teaches visitors how to observe the butterflies they see at the gardens, note their color, size, and activity, as well as what type or color of flower they’re feeding on. The data is collected by Westerman Lab to answer questions about the pollinator population in Northwest Arkansas.
Mount Magazine Visitors Center includes information on butterflies.
Read on for a collection of events and activities you can do this spring to celebrate butterflies in Arkansas.
This spring, take time to enjoy and learn about butterflies and how we can help them thrive in Arkansas.
Learn more about the Butterflies in Arkansas!
All photos are courtesy of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism.
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