Butterfly Oasis Habitat Project: A Conservation Photography Project by Lori A Cash

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) resting on a butterfly bush on a fall late afternoon in a backyard butterfly garden in Hampton, Virginia.

Monarch Butterfly

Decline of the Monarch Butterfly Population

In recent years there has been a very significant decline in the monarch butterfly population. The monarch population in the eastern part of the United States have decline by 90% while the western population of monarch butterflies have declined by 99%.

In July 2022 due to the declining population of the migratory monarch butterfly, it
has now been designated as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

There are many reasons for this decline in the monarch butterfly population such
as habitat loss with less milkweed plants being planted in gardens, along sides of
roads or in medians. Climate change and the use of pesticides are other factors that
have played a role in the decline of the monarch butterfly population.

In the summer of 2021, I created a butterfly garden in my backyard to specifically
help with the declining population of monarch butterflies. I wanted to help play a
part in helping monarch butterflies as well as all other butterflies survive and increase the butterfly population. Thus, I began my conservation photography project of which I call The Butterfly Oasis Habitat Project. This butterfly project was created to provide shelter, water, food (milkweed especially) and a habitat in my backyard butterfly garden to help provide a breeding and migration habitat for Monarch butterflies as well other butterflies and pollinators.

I planted a variety of host plants for the Monarchs and for Black Swallowtail
butterflies as well as a variety of nectar plants. In the very first year of the garden, I had over a dozen Monarch caterpillars and over two dozen Black Swallowtail caterpillars.
In addition, I had plenty of fluttering visitors to my backyard butterfly oasis habitat
such as the Monarch, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Cabbage White and a large variety of skippers. My backyard butterfly garden is home to bee pollinators as well.

In Spring 2022, I expanded my backyard butterfly garden so that I can add many more milkweed plants as well as other host plants and nectar plants for other butterflies. I created a puddling station, put up a butterfly and bee house, and added more nectar plants to my backyard butterfly garden. In addition, my backyard butterfly garden has been Certified as a Monarch Butterfly Garden and Certified as a Butterfly Garden by the North American Butterfly Association. Also, I received certification as a Monarch Waystation by Monarch Watch.

During the Spring, I took a course on how to collect monarch data as well as on the monarch biology and its conservation. This course was given via Zoom with the
Monarch Larva Monitoring Project. This year will be the first year that I have become a citizen science data collector for my Monarchs in my Butterfly Oasis Habitat Garden. I collect and enter this data with the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project.

Even though my Butterfly Oasis Habitat Project mainly focuses on the Monarchs, I also want to help preserve and conserve all butterfly visitors to my backyard butterfly habitat. This year I have seen a few different variety of butterflies in my garden so far including the red streaked hairstreak butterfly and the Great Purple Hairstreak Butterfly.

Images From The Butterfly Oasis Habitat Project

Male monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) with open wings resting on butterfly bush in backyard butterfly garden on a late spring evening in Hampton, Virginia.
Male monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) with open wings resting on butterfly bush in backyard butterfly garden on a late spring evening in Hampton, Virginia.
American Butterflies Magazine Fall 2022 Volume 30 Number 3
Black Swallowtail Caterpillar Feeding on a fennel plant during the summer in a backyard butterfly garden. Black swallowtails’ host plants are in the include parsley, Queen Anne’s lace, carrots, celery, fennel and dill.. Published as cover image in the American Butterflies Magazine Fall 2022 issue.
Monarch caterpillar feeding on milkweed on a late summer evening in Hampton, Virginia.
Monarch caterpillar feeding on milkweed on a late summer evening. The monarch caterpillars sole host plant is the milkweed which include butterfly weed, common milkweed, and swamp milkweed.
Male monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) feeding on a butterfly bush in my backyard butterfly garden in Hampton, Virginia.
Male monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) feeding on a butterfly bush in my backyard butterfly garden in Hampton, Virginia.
Butterfly Oasis Habitat by Lori A Cash Conservation Photography, LLC using her backyard butterfly garden that is certified as a Monarch Waystation, and certified as a Butterfly Garden as well as Monarch Butterfly Garden.
Tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) feeding on Black Knight butterfly bush in backyard garden on a summer evening in Hampton, Virginia.
Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) with tattered wings feeding on Honeycomb Butterfly Bush on a autumn late afternoon in a backyard butterfly garden in Hampton, Virginia.
Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) with tattered wings feeding on Honeycomb Butterfly Bush on a autumn late afternoon in a backyard butterfly garden in Hampton, Virginia.
Pair of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) mating on the ground on mulch in early summer in the Butterfly House at the Norfolk Botanical Garden in Norfolk, Virginia.
Pair of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) mating in the ground on mulch in early summer in the Butterfly House at the Norfolk Botanical Garden in Norfolk, Virginia.
Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) resting on Honeycomb Butterfly Bush on a autumn late afternoon in a backyard butterfly garden in Hampton, Virginia.
Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) resting on Honeycomb Butterfly Bush on a autumn late afternoon in a my backyard butterfly garden in Hampton, Virginia. The monarch population has been threatened by the use of pesticides, habitat loss and climate change impacts. Thus, monarchs have had a decline in population of upward 90 have suffered a population decline upward of 90% in the last few decades.
Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) feeding on Honeycomb Butterfly Bush on a autumn late afternoon in a backyard butterfly garden in Hampton, Virginia.
Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) feeding on Honeycomb Butterfly Bush on a autumn late afternoon in a backyard butterfly garden in Hampton, Virginia. The monarch butterfly is one of the most recognized and well known species of butterfly in North America. Monarch butterflies each fall have a multi-generational 3,000-mile migration to Mexico.
Monarch caterpillar crawling on milkweed plant leaf on a summer evening in Hampton, Virginia.
Monarch caterpillar crawling on milkweed plant leaf on a summer evening in Hampton, Virginia. Monarch caterpillars live about 10-14 days while growing from eating the leaves of milkweed.
Monarch caterpillar (Danaus plexippus) on the move on the stem of a swamp milkweed plant on a very early summer morning in a backyard butterfly garden in Hampton, Virginia.
Eastern black swallowtail butterfly (Papilio polyxenes) checking out the fennel as a possible host plant for eggs on a summer afternoon in a backyard butterfly garden in Hampton, Virginia.
Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) nectaring on a butterfly bush in the afterfooon during the early summer in a backyard butterfly garden in Hampton, Virginia.
Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) nectaring on a butterfly bush in the afternoon during the early
summer in a backyard butterfly garden.
Eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucus) with closed wings on butterfly bush
Eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucus) with closed wings on butterfly bush in a backyard butterfly garden in Hampton, Virginia,
Black swallowtail caterpillar (Papilio polyxenes) eating blossoms on fennel plant in backyard butterfly garden in Hampton, Virginia.
Black swallowtail caterpillar (Papilio polyxenes) eating blossoms on fennel plant in backyard butterfly garden in Hampton, Virginia.

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Lori’s Related Blog Posts on Butterflies and Caterpillars:

International Monarch Monitoring Blitz! (07/28/22)

Backyard Garden Certified as Monarch Waystation (05/18/22)

Planting Milkweed for Earth Day (4/22/22)

Save the Monarchs for Earth Day (04/08/22)

Black Swallowtail Caterpillars in the Fall (10/22/21)

Backyard Butterfly Garden Tips (8/31/21)

Ways to Protect the Monarch Butterfly (7/8/21)

Copyright © 2022 Lori A Cash Conservation Photography, LLC

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