The Regional Municipality Of York

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Butterflies, Bees and Pollinators

Photo of a monarch butterfly sitting on milkweed

Butterflies and Bees Need Your Help

The Monarch butterfly is an iconic symbol representing pollinators including bees, butterflies, moths and birds. They are responsible for pollinating one-third of the food you eat.

Unfortunately, food and shelter for these pollinators is disappearing at an alarming rate because of pesticide use, disease, development, invasive species and a variety of other issues.

Monarch butterfly populations have decreased by more than 90 per cent over the last 20 years. Native bee populations and Honeybee colonies are quickly disappearing.

You can help by planting beautiful flowers, shrubs and trees that attract bees and butterflies

Not enough gardens include plants for pollinators. Planting native flowers, including milkweed, will attract butterflies, bees and other important pollinators to your yard and provide the food and shelter they need. Every wildflower, shrub or tree that is planted will make a difference.

  1. Plant a small pot of wildflowers on your porch or balcony, or add wildflowers to your yard
  2. Create a butterfly garden using an easy to use kit
  3. Build a community butterfly garden
  4. Create a beautiful oasis in your yard by adding trees and shrubs
  5. Check plant names in the Canadian Wildlife Federation Native Plant Encyclopedia
  6. Track Monarch migration online
  7. Get your local schools involved through the School Watch program

Milkweed for Monarch Butterflies

Despite its name, milkweed is not a weed. These beautiful wildflowers are the only source of food for Monarch caterpillars. Milkweed also provides Monarch butterflies with shelter, breeding habitat and resting stops during migration. Make sure to include milkweed in your yard or garden to help protect the Monarch butterfly.

Choose the best milkweed for your yard:

  • Swamp milkweed – Only grows in wet and moist properties
  • Poke milkweed – Best for woodland shade gardens
  • Butterfly milkweed or orange milkweed – Good for normal to drought tolerant gardens
  • Common milkweed – Good for normal to moist gardens

Check Your Garden for Invasive Plants

Some plants and flowers can take over and destroy butterfly gardens and habitats.

  1. Learn how to identify, control and remove invasive plants, be sure to check if a plant is invasive before you buy it
  2. Watch out for Dog Strangling Vine because it will take over your garden and is a serious threat to Monarch habitat
  3. Report any invasive species you find to Ontario’s Invading Species Awareness Program

How York Region is Helping Pollinators

In 2017, York Region became the first Monarch butterfly-friendly region through the National Wildlife Federation Mayors Monarch Pledge program. York Region is dedicated to planting Monarch habitats and encourage you to do the same.

Here are some ways York Region is helping:

  1. Transforming the Bill Fisch Forest Stewardship and Education Centre into a better home for Monarch butterflies and other pollinators by planting native wildflowers including milkweed.
  2. Restoring a tallgrass prairie at the Bendor and Graves Tract into lightly forested grassland called an oak savanna. These unique habitats are home to many birds, wildlife and pollinators including the Monarch butterfly.
  3. Reshaping the way homeowners plan their gardens through Fusion Landscaping.

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