Len Davis is passionate about the monarch butterfly. So passionate in fact that he started an Edmonton-based organization called Leaf2Wing to promote awareness of the declining Monarch butterfly population. Davis became interested in the monarch’s plight through a children’s book purchased for his son called, “Gotta Go! Gotta Go!”, celebrating the amazing journey of the monarch’s migration.
Monarch butterflies migrate each year from Mexico, arriving in Canada in late June or early July. However, record low numbers have many naturalists concerned. Extreme temperatures, droughts and loss of habitat are all considered to be contributing factors leading to the significant decline in their population.
Like many of us, we take it for granted that butterflies seem to be everywhere. Who knew we were inadvertently destroying the very habitat they need to thrive? Milkweed, a native species to Alberta, is the only plant monarch butterflies can lay their eggs on and the only food source for the monarch caterpillar. Other milkweed visitors include native bees, honey bees, butterflies, beetles, flies, and hummingbirds.
So, what happened to all the milkweed? A combination of urban sprawl, herbicide and a lack of understanding. Len quotes Winnie-the-Pooh, “Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them.” He decided to take action by partnering with the Shaw Conference Centre to plant a pollinator sanctuary garden and provide information sessions. With his Monarch butterfly coffee mug in hand and engaging personality, we’re reminded “that everything is interconnected. Something is relying on that plant for survival.”
The simple statement, “you have control over your yard, your community” reinforces the belief that it’s up to us, as Edmontonians, to become “micro environmentalists”. Len’s vision is to keep creating pollinator garden sanctuaries around the city with the ultimate goal of starting a pollinator pathway on the QEII highway from Edmonton to Calgary.
We invite you to visit our Monarch Butterfly Preservation Garden located in front of our urban beehive at the Southeast corner of our venue. It’s all a part of our commitment to sustainability and contribution to Edmonton’s urban biodiversity. To learn more about our sustainability program, visit sustainable meetings.
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