Bermuda Monarch Conservancy

 
 

The simple way to care for Bermuda's environment
  

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The Bermuda Monarch Conservancy (BMC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of Bermuda's monarch butterfly colony and to the promotion of environmental awareness and education in the community.

BMC's mission is to establish and maintain a network of monarch groves across the island, facilitate monarch conservation awareness and education, and promote public/private partnerships and tourism in Bermuda.

BMC's activities began in January 2003. Since then, BMC has established an experimental grove and assembled a team of local partners and donors.

BMC's activities are organized around three programs - Adopt a Grove, In the Classroom, and MonarchTalk - and made accessible to all through this web site.

Bermudamonarch.org is our main communication channel with you, parents, children, teachers, gardeners, walkers, butterfly watchers, naturalists, and prospective partners and donors. Here you'll find information you can use on our current activities, and children will discover plenty of (and expanding) resources on monarchs and milkweed.
 
Status Report 2015 by Cecile Davidson
 
Ten years after the launch of MonarchTalk, it's a lot of fun to take stock of what's happened to our objectives.  Let's take a look in the rear view mirror, and observe how "the way things were" looks from our new vantage point, and where we stand now. 
 
In short, in the last 12 years, the Bermuda Monarch Conservancy has turned into one of the kinds of non-profits I like best, i.e., it's been adopted by, and transferred into the hands of the community.  And we can account to our donors with some funds left that still keep us going, and our joint objectives having been met.
 
First, the objective to raise community awareness of the monarch population, and of the need to help it prosper, has been reached. 
 
Bermuda schools do more than ever plant milkweed in their school gardens, and they typically include the monarch life cycle into their primary level curriculum.  Same with the Aquarium, Museum, and Zoo classroom.  Schools' and teachers' requests for emergency seeds and seedlings still dribble through in years of shortage.
-  The importation of the aurora milkweed, a golden yellow variety suited to our climate, and its distribution to the Wedco and Tulo Valley public plant nurseries proved instrumental.  For those of us keen on behavioral economics, it proved to be THE nudge for our green thumb island.  It was perceived as taking the weed out of the milkweed, and turned it into a desirable ornemental flower.  It's now everwhere, in private gardens as well as in plant nurseries.
-  MonarchWatch USA paid us a visit.  While I was MIA, Dr. Harris and his team took them on a tour of his museum and they discussed the lessons learned at the Maritime Museum grove (more on that later)As you can imagine, they never complained about this special trearment.  BTW, I believe I still have a rain check I'd like to draw for a private tour of the Casemates!
-  The Bermuda National Trust gave us a green award to recognize and further our community awareness development efforts.  
-  We're gladly taking indirect credit for the butterfly mania that has seized the island through larger scale and maintenance-intensive projects:  1/  The Botanical Gardens have created a butterfly garden with a large milkweed and monarch representation;  2/  The Aquarium, Museum, and Zoo have also added a small butterfly garden for monarchs next to their classroom; and 3/  Brighton Nurseries have built a butterfly house, also with milkweed and monarch activities - I am pleased to direct inquiries for seedlings over there when I run out.  
 
Second, from what I've just said, you can infer that our monarch population is thriving - goal reached!
 
Third, we've learned some valuable lessons - a bit of "failure gives useful insight" here:
 
-  Adopt a Grove did not work out (but was replicated by the community).  For a couple of reasons.  First, milkweed patches attract so many butterflies that you need the proximity of more nectar/flowers so butterflies stick around and offer a tourist attraction than you can sustain throughout the yearNot something we could achieve on public access land in Bermuda due to maintenance logistics and cost conditions.  Second, milkweed patches are susceptible to being decimated by our invasive snail species - the Maritime Museum grove was lost for this reason.  So, two risks materialized.  Although a sunk cost, the groves were a great launchpad for the project and proved valuable in this regard.  The island has now butterfly gardens at the Botanical Gardens, the Aquarium, and at Brighton Nurseries.  So these public and private organizations validated the concept, and both the community and tourists get to enjoy monarch gardens.
MonarchTalk is obsolete as a communication platform (but was not essential).  Not that it was cutting edge when we started - blogs existed - but clearly if we needed to continue the discussion, we'd have other vectors in mind.   Not a loss in as much as we did not collect data, and interestingly enough we have not needed to.  Although you can't take the quant out of the girl, I planned for the data to be used as a support to galvanize action more than as an analytic tool.  This website, the buzz it generated, the introduction of the aurora variety, the groves, the National Trust award, all of this taken together seems to have driven the results.
 
Clearly, we also rode the wave of increased awareness of, and conservation efforts for the monarch butterfly and its migration in North America and Mexico - the right place at the right time. 
 
Finally, a few words on the people who contributed to BMC:
-  Dr. Edward Harris now heads the wider scope Bermuda National Museum - with the ramparts of the Maritime Museum now fittingly reconnected to the Casemates.  Go see it!  Wonderful!
-  Dr. Charlotte Andrews now heads the St. George's Foundation - quite a task for this UNESCO World Heritage site.
-  Our little volunteer in the pictures below, Aydan Prime, is entering a prestigious East Coast university in the fall - I'd like to believe that BMC gave her a subliminal love for all things beautiful and meaningful and green; Lori has developed a fantastic green thumb; and we'll have the shovel ready for Dan at year-end to trade for his tennis racket...
 
And last but not least, thank you to the XL Foundation - now XL Catlin.
 
Cheers,
 
Cecile
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We have created MonarchTalk for everything-monarch that's Hot to Post!

It's a (relatively) interactive bulletin board where you can send us your comments, questions, stories, ideas, or notes on your gardening and monarch sightings. We'll post online your emails and the feedback they receive from other participants.

Make MonarchTalk yours - it is your community's small online forum to exchange tips and ideas. Check out below how it will look.

NEWS AND CALENDAR

  • March 2003 - The Bermuda National Trust becomes a Grove Partner. Steve Conway, BNT's Executive Director, and Dr. David Wingate are enthusiastic and encouraging. We're grateful and excited to plant the experimental grove at Paget Marsh.
  • July 2003 - The XL Foundation becomes our founding donor. Thank you.
  • November 2003 - The Bermuda Maritime Museum becomes a Grove Partner. Thank you Dr. Harris for your vision and support! Dr. Edward Harris is the inventor of the Harris Matrix harrismatrix.com, and the author of Bermuda Forts, 1612 - 1957, among many other books and publications. It's a joy to plant milkweed at the Maritime Museum he's led for many years.
  • November 2003 - Hurricane Fabian assessment at the Paget experimental grove: we'll need to fix it in the spring.
  • March 2004 - We've been hacked! Some of you may have noticed pyschedelic colors on our web site and other random oddities. Sorry!
  • April 2004 - QuoVadis Ltd. becomes a Service Partner. QuoVadis sponsors our school curriculum materials.
  • April 29, 2004 - The Bermuda Monarch Conservancy will receive a Bermuda National Trust Award on May 27. The Bermuda National Trust Awards are presented annually to individuals, organizations, groups and schools who have worked for the benefit of Bermuda and its people, to preserve places of beauty or historical interest, buildings, artifacts, lands and animal and plant life, and to promote their appreciation.
  • May 8, 2004 - Maritime Museum planting; 10:00 am onward inside the Keep. Cars are needed to transport the milkweed from the greenhouse in Devonshire to Dockyard. Please contact us!
  • May 13, 2004 - Many thanks to the Maritime Museum Crew! Look at our crew in the 4 pictures below, courtesy of Charlotte Andrews, the Museum's curator.
  • 2005 - Official launch of MonarchTalk: watch this space!


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    Maritime Museum Crew (left to right): Cecile, Stephen, Andrew and Lee Davidson; Aydan, Lori and Dan Prime, Frances Smith and Charlotte Andrews; missing in the picture: Pui and Keith Stuart, and Howard Smith.

    MaritimeMuseum_Andrew_2.jpg

    Andrew selecting the seedlings.


    Here's a snapshot of our programs and why it's fun and rewarding to join our current volunteers, partners, and donors.

    Adopt a Grove
    BMC is developing a network of groves across the Bermuda islands. Each grove is a natural sanctuary protecting the resident colony in its habitat (a mix of milkweed, trees, and nectar flowers) - and acts as a living clustor in this expanding network. The Monarch Groves of Bermuda are landmarks of the island's natural heritage - and a lively focal point for locals and visitors. Learn more about how to Get Involved, or how to lend your name to a distinct sanctuary in Adopt a Grove.

    In the Classroom
    Butterflies capture the imagination of everyone, adults and children alike. The monarch groves are ecosystems teeming with life; they engage children to protect the places where they play. So do school gardens - as teachers know well. Affiliate schools, we provide you with seeds or seedlings for your school gardens, as well as monarch materials that fit into your curriculum. We organize an annual school award program so that each of your participating classes can compete to be rewarded for their accomplishments - and win movie tickets! Read more in Get Involved.

    MonarchTalk
    Ask questions, share your stories, experiences, and tips, or give feedback to the forum's participants via email at MonarchTalk@bermudamonarch.org. You can also send emails on your milkweed, caterpillars, or monarch sightings from your garden or elsewhere on the island. We'll post your notes on MonarchTalk and log them in our records. You'll see your plantings and sightings dot the Bermuda monarch distribution map and seasonal health chart.

    We're launching MonarchTalk in 2005! Join the forum for fun or for science!

    DATE: November 2003
    BY: Warwick resident - The milkweed is in bloom in my garden but I have no butterflies. What happened to them during the hurricane?
    DATE: November 2003
    BY: Paget resident - They probably hid in the trees. Some may not have survived. Cold winter temperatures are more of a threat. I hear it's a good idea to put out a butterfly house where they can roost and keep warm during wintertime.
    DATE: February 2004
    BY: Somerset resident - Milkweed in full bloom in my garden. Waiting for monarchs!
    DATE:March 2004
    BY: Tucker's Town resident - Milkweed in bloom, no butterflies here either.
    DATE: March 2004
    BY: Cecile - Paget Grove - I spotted my first monarch out of hibernation on Lover's Lane. So there are survivors after this winter's exceptionally low temperatures. I bumped into a class from the Gilbert Institute under the supervision of Professor Tucker and Nicola O'Leary of BNT at the grove. We're fixing it before the summer season! I'm glad you're enjoying it!
    DATE: April 10, 2004
    BY: Stephen - First caterpillar of the season. Here we go!
    DATE: April 11, 2004
    BY: Cecile - Steve and I met a tourist couple at the grove (birdwatchers). They were from Cincinnati. We exchanged stories about the Daniel Boon forest, the Natural Arches covered in mountain laurels, and the Mammoth Cave. I'm glad they enjoyed the grove.
    DATE: April 18, 2004
    BY: Jennings Bay resident - Milkweed in bloom with caterpillars.
    DATE: April 25, 2004
    BY: Point Shares resident - Milkweed in bloom with two monarchs.
    DATE: April 26, 2004
    BY: Paget resident - Monarchs laying eggs around Rural Hill.
    DATE: April 30, 2004
    BY: Cecile - I met Ms. Smith and her husband at the grove. Ms. Smith's father used to work at the Biostation and created the first small-scale model of the Bermuda volcanic mount and surrounding seafloor. How's that for fascinating? They live in Nova Scotia and although it's a bit of a northern latitude for monarchs, they proved to me once again that Canadians know a whole lot about monarchs!
    DATE: April 30, 2004
    BY: Cecile - Back at the grove ... with Peter Drew of the National Trust. CATERPILLARS SAVED FROM LANDMOWERS! That's the bottom line. Peter confirmed that the grove should not be accidently mowed down again. We'll be replanting in spots where milkweed did not grow back with National Trust volunteers in the fall.

    MONARCH MAP AND HEALTH CHART

    Bermuda monarch health chart - 2007 is under construction. Send a note to MonarchTalk on the location and number of your milkweed and butterfly spottings. We'll log them in!
    Bermuda monarch distribution map - 2007 is under construction. Send a note to MonarchTalk on the location and number of your milkweed and butterfly spottings. We'll log them in!

    THE PEOPLE OF BMC

    We are every child, parent, teacher, butterfly watcher, walker, gardener, landscaper, or naturalist who plants milkweed or spots monarchs in Bermuda. We are the MonarchTalk community and the volunteers of BMC.

    BMC is made possible by its donors and partners.

    BMC is advised by:
    Dr. David Wingate, Past President of the Bermuda Audubon Society
    Dr. Edward Harris, FSA, MBE, Executive Director of the Bermuda Maritime Museum
    Cecile Davidson, BMC Director

    Contact us at butterfly@bermudamonarch.org

    MaritimeMuseum_StephenandDan_2.jpg

    Stephen and Dan in action at the Maritime Museum.

    MaritimeMuseum_FrancesandCecile_2.jpg

    Frances and Cecile at the Maritime Museum - with a throusand more seedlings to go!

    © 2003-2015 Bermuda Monarch Conservancy