The Audubon-sponsored garden planted for Monarch butterflies at Page Springs Fish Hatchery in August 2018 has lured in 28 species of butterflies as well as many other wildlife species. While male Monarchs have visited the garden to nectar on the native wildflowers during spring and fall migrations, a female has yet to lay eggs on the native Arizona milkweeds during the summer breeding season. However, the milkweeds have hosted the caterpillars of Queen butterflies and Milkweed Tussock moths, and have supported their own community of insects, including milkweed beetles, milkweed bugs, and Oleander aphids.
Predators in the garden have included a resident tarantula, a preying mantis, dragonflies, jumping and crab spiders, and ambush and assassin bugs. Skunks have visited the garden at night and helped us by digging out the beetle grubs. A deer pruned the asters when they got too tall. A javelina helped loosen up some hard-packed soil. Robins foraged for worms, Anna’s hummingbirds nectared on flowers, Lesser goldfinches plucked seeds, and a Black Hawk periodically perched above the garden.
Visitors are also enjoying the garden. Cindy Dunn, the manager of the hatchery told me that she has received many positive comments about the garden from the visiting public. She has added the garden to the self-guiding hatchery tour, as indicated by a new fish-shaped sign. On Thursday mornings from March to November, our ten volunteer gardeners take turns maintaining the garden and are happy to educate visitors about monarchs. This past summer, a banner with information about the Monarch’s life cycle and migration was installed on the front wall of the garden. There is also a new garden bench with a plaque in memory of Dena Greenwood.
Our dedicated volunteer gardeners who plant, water, weed, and prune the garden are: Susan Meyer, Pat Neyman, Colleen Peck, Paula Burns, Bev Hagerman, Maggie Young, Nita Marlette, Donna Momeyer, Rob Gibbs, and Denise Gibbs. Visitors and staff appreciate their expertise, time, and hard work.
Come for a visit. Sit on the bench. Think about how Dena inspired you. Listen to the music of moving water, watch the birds, and drink in the beauty.
Denise Gibbs, Monarch Conservation Specialist, monarchwatch.org