Butterflies traveling the Butterfly Highway through North Carolina now have their first pit-stop.
It’s in Matthews, thanks to Will and Martha Krauss, owners of 803 Elizabeth Bed and Breakfast on Elizabeth Lane.
The couple recently certified their inn as a part of the Butterfly Highway by ensuring the grounds provide food and water, and offer habitat for native pollinators. That includes butterflies, hummingbirds, bees and other insects that carry pollen from plant to plant.
The Butterfly Highway is a program of the N.C. Wildlife Federation that seeks to plant large tracks of land with native pollinator-friendly flowers and vegetation to help combat the dwindling numbers of butterflies and bees.
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The federation is working with utility companies to sow easements with pollinator friendly seeds native to the area, and working with other businesses that may have large amounts of land and rights-of-way that could be planted with pollinator friendly vegetation.
Because the tracts of land are not connected, the Butterfly Highway depends on pit stops, like the Krauss’s, to fuel the pollinators until they reach the next large tract.
“Anybody can do this. The size of your yard really doesn’t matter,” said Tim Gestwicki, CEO of the N.C. Wildlife Federation.
“It’s great to get five acres, but we need stopover places for pollinators as well. Both large tracks and smaller pit stops are important for the Butterfly Highway, our roadmap for butterfly conservation.”
Businesses, residences, schools and houses of worship are all encouraged to join the program.
Angel Hjarding, the N.C. Wildlife Federation director of Wildlife Habitat Programs and creator of the Butterfly Highway concept, which originated from her doctoral research at UNC Charlotte, said the program has been well received across the state. A map of the more than 400 designated Butterfly Highway sites can be found at www.butterflyhighway.org.
Martha Krauss said she’s enjoyed watching butterflies in her garden for years and has hosted beehives at the inn for the past five years. But since the butterfly highway project came along, she has a new respect and appreciation for pollinators.
“The butterflies are beautiful to look at, but they are so much more,” Krauss said. “The Butterfly Highway project has helped to give us a new awareness of the importance of pollinators in our local environment.”
Melinda Johnston is a freelance writer: email@example.com.
Visit www.butterflyhighway.org to find out more information about the Butterfly Highway or how to certify your yard.
Did you know?
Here are some fun facts from the Butterfly Highway website . . .
▪ North Carolina has a $78 billion agriculture economy that relies on pollinators for crops such as squash, apples, blueberries and strawberries.
▪ There are 13 known bumblebee species in N.C. several of which are threatened. Bombus affinis (rusty patch bumble bee), Bombus terricola (Yellowbanded bumble bee) and Epeoloides pilosula.
▪ There are 174 species of butterflies in N.C. and approximately 1,200 moth species.
▪ Monarch butterflies journey through N.C. during their spring and fall migrations. Because of the threats to pollinator habitats, there has been a loss of important nectar plants, and significant loss in the Monarch’s host plant milkweed, which can affect their ability to fly the long distances.
▪ Threats to N.C. pollinators include native pollinator habitat loss, limited floral resources, invasive plants, landscape fragmentation due to urbanization, overuse of pesticides and fungicides.
▪ Native plants should be used in habitat restoration and pollinator gardens. Natives typically do not require fertilizers, require fewer pesticides, require less water, and promote local native biological diversity.