Celebrate, support monarchs at Iowa City festival

Event is Sept. 24 at East Side Recycling Center

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IOWA CITY — The yearly monarch migration is in full swing, and Corridor residents can celebrate the king of butterflies at the Iowa City Monarch Festival on Sunday, Sept. 24.

The family friendly event, from 1 to 3 p.m. at the East Side Recycling Center, 2401 Scott Blvd. SE, Iowa City, will include a nature-themed scavenger hunt, crafts and stories and a special snack representing the life cycle of a monarch. Caterpillars, chrysalis and adult monarchs will be on display, and milkweed seeds will be available free of charge on a first come, first served basis.

This is the second year for the festival, which started after Iowa City Mayor Jim Throgmorton signed the National Wildlife Federation’s Mayors’ Monarch Pledge to help raise awareness and help rehabilitate the monarch population.

To that end, the city supports monarch waystations with milkweed — the only plant monarch caterpillars eat — at Weatherby, Hickory Hill and Hunter’s Run Parks, as well as at the Eastside Recycling Center.

Partner organizations and festival sponsors Backyard Abundance, Master Gardeners and the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation will have booths at the event.

Backyard Abundance will host a pollinator garden kit assembly line at the festival, and participants can take home a small pollinator garden starter kit that includes soil, ash and native prairie seeds.

The ash replicates the effects of restorative prairie fires that can rejuvenate soil, Backyard Abundance Director Fred Meyer said.

He said autumn is the perfect time to plant native prairie flowers that support monarchs and other pollinators, because they need a cold period to properly germinate.

“Get your garden established now. The best time to plant is right before the snow falls,” he said. “That’s when prairie seeds go through stratification. It’s simulating how they work in the natural world as well.”

Pollinator gardens benefit more than just monarchs.

Meyer said monarchs are a window into broader issues, including native prairie habitat loss and the challenges facing other pollinators like bees.

“Everybody loves monarchs, and they’re endangered, so we want to help them,” he said. “The monarch problem brings awareness to our environmental problems. Through the monarchs, we can communicate larger problems we need to be aware of.”

IF YOU GO

What: Iowa City Monarch Festival

Where: East Side Recycling Center, 2401 Scott Blvd. SE, Iowa City

When: 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 24

Cost: Free

Details: icgov.org/ICMonarchs

l Comments: (319) 398-8434; alison.gowans@thegazette.com

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