Jim Murphy & Sons

New milkweed research project in 2016 at Dr. Bill Roston Native Butterfly House

Posted By  | On 0 Comments
Monarch Butterflies are ready to wear a tiny numerical tag just as they take flight to Mexico.

Monarch Butterflies are ready to wear a tiny numerical tag just as they take flight to Mexico.


With all of the news lately about the declining population of the Monarch Butterfly, people are wanting to do anything they can to help, which often includes planting milkweed, the preferred host plant by this species.

According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, Missouri is home to 17 species of milkweed (Asclepias spp.), but several of those are uncommon or hard to find. There are many, however, that are available and there is a great opportunity and need for more outreach programs providing information about the different types.

Beginning in 2016, we will be conducting a milkweed research project that will take place at the Dr. Bill Roston Native Butterfly House. Dr. Chris Barnhart, curator of the Butterfly House and biologist with MSU will provide the guidance. We will not be using all 17 species in our research project, just five or six varieties that are yet to be selected.

This project will consist of trials on the different milkweed species and which are the most attractive to monarchs. Little research of this type has been done, especially in this area, and having an active research project will be a great educational tool for the Butterfly House.

Kelly McGowan

Kelly McGowan

The Dr. Bill Roston Native Butterfly House, located at the Springfield Botanical Gardens, 2400 S. Scenic Ave., is the only all-native butterfly house in the State of Missouri and one of the most popular attractions at this park.

I will also be doing a poster presentation on this new research project at a pollinator symposium at the University of Missouri in Columbia on January 28, 2016, from 8 a.m.–5:30 p.m. at the Bond Life Sciences Building.

The 7th Annual Agroforestry Symposium, The Future of Pollinators: Why Agroforestry Matters, is free and open to the public. For more information, including the event schedule and directions, please contact: Caroline Todd at 573-884-2874, or at toddcs@missouri.edu. You may also review the Symposium Program Flyer that provides additional detailed information, online

More than 35,000 visitors enjoyed the butterfly house from mid-May through October of 2015. The mission of the Butterfly House is to educate visitors about the many types of native butterflies and moths as well as the host and nectar plants that they need for survival. Admission is free and is open from 10 am to dusk, 7 days a week during months of operation. The butterfly house opens for the 2016 season on Friday, May 13, 2016.

First published in the MU Extension Greene County newsletter, “Reaching Out Report,” January 2016. Kelly McGowan is a horticultural educator for the University of Missouri Extension Service in Springfield. She divides her time between MU Extension and Friends of the Garden. You can reach her by e-mail at mcgowank@missouri.edu or call 417.881.8909 To become a subscriber and receive a monthly email with the direct link for reading the free University of Missouri Greene County Extension newsletter, “Reaching Out Report” online. Send your request by email to burtond@missouri.edu.

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login