What’s a Butterbike? Today we find out from Wildlife Specialist, Jared Green, at Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge.
Monarch butterfly populations have been on the decline in recent years, which inspired one young naturalist to go on a 10,000-mile bike ride along their migration route to bring awareness to their plight. Despite being one of the most recognizable wildlife species in North America, monarchs have not been immune to the pressures of habitat loss and fragmentation. Naturalist Sara Dykman teamed up with Beyond a Book, an adventure-linked education project that uses the experiences of real life adventurers to engage students, to document the monarch’s annual multi-generational migration from Mexico to Canada and back again for her Butterbike Project.
Sara began her journey alongside the monarchs in March in Zitácuaro, Mexico, then spending the next four months bicycling north through the Midwestern United States and into Canada, before dropping back down into the Northeastern U.S. Along the way, she has made many stops to educate the local communities about their importance along the monarch migration route. Popular with children and schools, she hopes to inspire to community members to plant milkweed, which serves as the only host plant for monarch butterfly caterpillars, and other native nectar plants in their backyards and community parks.
Sara made one of her many stops at the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge in Sudbury, Massachusetts, to inform local residents of the impressive migration that monarchs undertake each year and the threats they are facing. She gave a presentation to several children that were part of a youth summer camp overseen by Massachusetts Audubon. After showing the children pictures from her trip, she guided them through the Refuge’s pollinator garden, pointing out several monarch butterfly caterpillars on milkweed plants. Later that afternoon, members of the general public were treated to a similar presentation and pollinator walk outside the visitor center.
Sara is currently outside Buffalo, New York and she anticipates finishing her round-trip journey to Mexico in December. Click here to follow her progress on the Butterbike blog.