Marshfield Monarchs Flying High With New Partnership

Marshfield Monarchs and Marshfield Utilities have banded together to provide a safe harbor for monarch butterflies in Central Wisconsin.

For years, Marshfield Monarchs (MM) has provided the community with an opportunity to see monarch butterflies in the Marshfield area. This will be easier than ever thanks to Marshfield Utilities and City of Marshfield Wastewater.

The partnership with Marshfield Utilities will give MM a bigger space to preserve land, and effectively raise the butterflies according to head of MM, Melissa Gwiazda.

“Our partnership with Marshfield Utilities and Wastewater offers us a safe and larger space to be able to effectively collect eggs/caterpillars and good food for the ones we raise at home,” Gwiazda said. “This will allow us to be able to maintain these habitats to the best of our abilities for the monarchs all season long.”

The habitat will be located in and along the bike trail on the south end of town according to Gwiazda. There will be designated signs depicting the protected land. The City of Marshfield Wastewater division is also allowing MM to occupy and maintain the milkweed that is already growing on their property.

New construction, the death of milkweed plants and possible chemically treated areas are all obstacles the crew faces when trying to maintain a habitat according to Gwiazda.

According to National Geographic, the increased pollution in the air has caused milkweed, the only source of food for monarch butterflies, to become too toxic for the insects to eat.

To get ready for winter and the next monarch season, the team at MM is preparing the new area by cultivating and planting new milkweed plants. The team is also in the process of cleaning its exhibit at the zoo and storing all the materials used there.

The 2020 season proved to be a successful one despite the pandemic for MM as they released over 2,000 monarchs according to Gwiazda.

“With 2020 being basically shut down we seemed to have a lot more time to go out and hunt for eggs and caterpillars,” Gwiazda said. “We set a goal to hopefully raise and release 2,000 and we successfully released 2,081 monarchs with the help of about 250 egg and caterpillar donations from friends.”

This success, coupled with the new locations, has created a good outlook for the endangered monarch butterfly in the Marshfield area.

The Gwiazda family has also taken up painting rocks as both a source of fun and revenue for the cause.

Gwiazda shows off one of her butterfly paintings that they have been creating during the pandemic.

“It started off just for fun to hide here and there but it quickly turned into painting them to raise money to help our cause as people seem to love them,” Gwiazda said. “I’m finding it hard to even keep up with them but I love painting so I’m not complaining one bit.”

Gwiazda said the team’s success wouldn’t be possible without the help of a few community members.

“We would just also like to thank Marshfield Utilities and Sam Warp of Wastewater again for their generosity of being able to use their land and giving us permission to build these new monarch habitats,” Gwiazda said.

If you would like to learn more about or just stay updated on Marshfield Monarchs and the work they do in the community, you can check them out on Facebook.

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Neal Hogden
Author: Neal Hogden