Mayors Monarch Pledge
Through the Mayors' Monarch Pledge the City of Horseshoe Bay participates in a national effort by local governments to protect the Monarch Butterfly. Monarch numbers have dwindled to a small fraction of the population that existed 30 years ago.
The cause of this decline has been attributed by some scientists to factors such as habitat destruction, pesticides and herbicides, and climate change.
The main tools to help the Monarch are education, development of pollinator habitat, and an annual spring mowing delay for certain lots in the city subject to mowing by City contractors.
Residents may help the monarch by taking part in the following activities:
Educating themselves about the Monarch butterfly.
Planting milkweed and flowering plants native to Texas on their property. Antelope's horn and green milkweed are two milkweed varieties which may be planted here in Horseshoe Bay.
Avoid mowing wild milkweed from March 1 until June 30.
Taking part in citizen science efforts including tagging of Monarchs during their spring and fall migrations.
Attend the City’s annual Butterflies and Bees seminar which takes place in the fall. The city will announce this in local media.
Build a pollinator garden
A great way to help the Monarch is to build habitat on your property with a pollinator garden.
To build a pollinator garden, we recommend setting aside enough space for several of each of the following types of plants: Flowering annuals, flowering perennials, and green or antelope's horn milkweed. A small shrub or native bunch grass can also add a little extra cover for the monarch and other butterflies.
The milkweed is important for monarch reproduction in the spring. The flowering plants supply nectar, which is food for butterflies, during the monarch's migrations in the fall and spring.
The area should get plenty of sun and if possible, be somewhat shielded from the wind.
Make sure you install about 8 inches of good soil with some organic content such as compost or humus.
A water source is also a good idea. For butterflies, a shallow dish filled with moistened sand will give them a place to land and get water without getting stuck in the water and drowning. This butterfly behavior is called "puddling."
Great plants for attracting monarchs are lantana, Maximillian sunflowers, Greg's mistflower, native Texas milkweeds, prairie verbena, gayfeather and lanceleaf coreopsis.
These plants will also attract a host of other pollinators, such as other butterfly and moth species, and a variety of bee species.
You are likely familiar with the European honeybee which is important to horticulture, but did you know that Texas is home to dozens of native bee species which are also critical pollinators? All bees can use some support, too.
Mealy blue sage and Turk's cap will add hummingbirds, which are also pollinators, to your list of visitors to your garden.
If you build habitat, we hope you will consider getting your garden certified as a Monarch Way Station under a program run by Monarch Watch in cooperation the National Wildlife Federation.
We have a several gardens in Horseshoe Bay certified as Monarch Way Stations, including the Steve Hawley Drought Tolerant Demonstration Gardens at City Hall. We'd love to see more.
For information about certification, go to the Monarch Watch web page.
Remember that by helping pollinators, we improve plant propagation and so improve the look of our community. It also helps our region's farmers in their efforts to keep food on our dinner tables.
So, step on out with your trowels and garden rakes, and build some pollinator habitat. You'll have fun and add a new dimension to your property, not to mention improving our community's appearance.