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Mayor Doug Athas is second from the right. 

I’m proud to report that my City won first prize for the Earth X Pitch Grant for $5,500.  Mayor Athas made the pitch for our city, telling an impressive panel of judges why he thought Garland should be awarded the first prize.

It was no easy win because our “little” town of Garland was competing against Dallas, home to the Discovery Gardens, and a mayor who like our Mayor Athas is extremely supportive of our statewide campaign to bring back the Monarch Butterfly, the flagship species for all pollinators.

Congratulations, Mayor Athas!  One more time you have helped to put Garland on the map as a lovable and caring community by telling our story in a way that all can understand.  Thank you for representing us so well.

Your support of the Garland Community Garden has helped to grow it from a 28 square foot plot on April 24, 2014 to approximately 3,000 square feed of planted space today—exactly three years later.  Members of Loving Garland Green hope that, through the plants we grow in the garden and the various public events we participate in, that we will be able to accomplish our mission—to increase the number of Garland residents who grow some of the food they eat.

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Lots of Monarch and Pollinator Support at the Garland Community Garden

Today [April 24] is the third year anniversary of the installation of the first garden plot at the Garland Community Garden.  I was so busy today getting ready for a tour of seventy First graders from Beaver MST scheduled for Thursday that this significant marker almost passed me by.  It just occurred to me as I was writing this article.

Happy Birthday Garland Community Garden!

On Saturday I saw my first Monarch down at the garden.  I was about to give up on them as I’m down there almost every day and until yesterday I had not seen a single one.  Jane Stroud, President of Loving Garland Green, has 7 Monarch pupas in her care that she rescued from her garden.  One of them eclosed on Sunday morning and Jane set her free in the afternoon. Another eclosed yesterday on Monday and three more of the pupas have turned dark indicating their eclosure time is near.

 

At Jane’s home:  In the first two frames we see a caterpillar to a beautiful green jewel-like pupa. About a week later, the pupa appears black but it is actually translucent as we are seeing the scrunched butterfly in the pupa.  In the last stage of its lifecycle the Monarch butterfly emerges (ecloses). The one in the photograph is a female as she does not have a large black dot on each of her hind wings.

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Monarch Citizen Science Projects at the Garland Community Garden

With all this recent activity of Monarchs in the garden and nearby area, I decided that even if we only have a few days left in our first phase of our first Monarch Citizen Science Project that I would still go ahead and post a sign down in our Pollinator Plot at the Garden.

 

Our sign features three butterfly look-alikes: The Monarch (which is the largest); the Queen Butterfly who has white dots outside the black wing border; and the Viceroy whose shape and color are similar to the Monarch but the Viceroy’s silhouette is droopy.

In this first phase we are asking residents who see a Monarch between now and April 30 to call 972-571-4497 and report where and when they saw the Monarch.  The Monarchs seen in North Texas between March and April 30th will be the ones headed north from their overwintering spot in the Mexican highlands.  We will report these sightings to Monarch.org, a nonprofit organization devoted to studying the migration patterns of the Monarch.

In the second phase of this Citizen Science project down at the Garland Community Garden we will purchase butterfly nets, condos and tags (stickers).  The first week in August (when Monarchs begin to drift back into Texas on their winter migration) we will hold a class on netting and tagging Monarchs.  Then, from August 1 until September 25, we will tag and release Monarchs and report this information to Monarch Watch Org. 

We also have a second Citizen Science Project to support the Monarchs.  For the entire months of September and October we will rescue and release Monarch caterpillars found in the Garland Community Garden.  This information will be reported to the public.

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Monarch-related scientific research is also being undertaken in Garland Texas—at one of our local magnet schools, Watson MST

The short version of this research being undertaken by scientific professionals from Midwestern is that they are growing multiple species of milkweed in the gardens at Watson MST and measuring differences in monarch butterfly caterpillar growth rate, digestive efficiency, and metabolism associated with differences in the host plant.  

Students and teachers will be involved in data collection and developing some curriculum to support and reinforce these lessons.  Based upon our research carried at Midwestern State University, the researchers already know of differences among species of milkweed in respect to energy and moisture content.  Therefore, they expect differences in growth and performance of monarch butterflies.  They are hoping to pinpoint which species of milkweed are the best for the monarch caterpillars so that we may perform more targeted conservation efforts. 

The Garland Community Garden may be able to assist in these efforts as we have a second year stand of common milkweed.  In Garland, our focus on the Monarch is community-wide and involves our students, our residents, our Parks and Recreation Department, our Garland ISD and all its wonderful educators, and many of our nonprofit organizations such as Loving Garland Green, Keep Garland Beautiful, and the Bud and Blossom Club. 

The Monarch and all pollinators as well as urban agriculture are admirably supported in our community by its leaders and residents.

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