A research unit conducted in the NSU Elementary Lab School’s library on the amazing migration of the monarch butterflies sparked incredible interest and motivation among students to do something to help these butterflies. They created a habitat with the goal of attracting the monarchs and giving them a safe spot to stop, rest, and refuel in Natchitoches. Students used their new knowledge to create a functional waystation to enhance their existing garden and provide a healthy habitat for the monarchs and other essential pollinators.
A waystation is a place for monarchs to rest when they are migrating to Mexico. A waystation is like a gas station for monarchs — they can refuel for the rest of their flight. Waystations are needed for several reasons. One reason is to protect monarchs from loss of habitat, toxins, and predators such as, spiders, birds and cats. Also, it is a good place for monarchs to rest and eat if they are tired or hungry from their journey.
Monarch Fun Facts
Monarchs are known as the Kings of the Butterflies.
Monarchs travel over 2,000 miles each year to migrate.
Monarch caterpillars only eat milkweed which makes them poisonous to predators.
Milkweed provides food, protection, and a home for the Monarchs and they couldn’t survive without milkweed.
Monarch predators are wasps and spiders.
They are the only species of butterfly that doesn’t hibernate, instead they migrate.
Monarchs go through a series of changes called metamorphosis.
Students concluded their research with a Monarch Madness Celebration including a program with class songs composed by students and guided tours of the school garden and waystation.
Steps to Build Your Own Waystation:
Research a location and plants that will grow in your climate (Milkweed is very important to include)
Design what you want your waystation to look like.
Prepare the garden bed for planting
Plant the seeds for your plants
Make sure the plants get enough water
Watch as your waystation grows
Special Thanks to: NSU Faculty and Students, Natchitoches Master Gardeners, Mayor Lee Posey and the City of Natchitoches, Dr. Michelle Morris, Good Food Project of the Food Bank of Central Louisiana, Chris Doffitt, LSMSA: Sidney Sorbet and Kameron Southinchark, John Broussard, Farm Bureau, 5th Grade Gifted Class, and NSU Grounds and Maintenance.