By MADDY VITALE, OCNJDAILY
The monarch butterfly is considered a major pollinator. And the distinctly colored insects with brilliant orange wings will be coming to town soon.
Ocean City happens to be one of the stops during their migration to Mexico each summer. They feed on milkweed and other succulents. The welcomed guests will be treated to some of their favorite foods in a garden made especially for them.
Members of the city’s Environmental Commission want to help the butterflies along their long journey. They will be installing a garden, or waystation, at the Bayside Center, 520 Bay Ave.
The project is funded by the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions (ANJEC) 2022 Open Space Stewardship Grant.
The plantings begin at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, June 8, and the public is invited to attend.
Volunteers and Environmental Commission members will create the garden. In addition, students from Discovery World Preschool will attend and help with the garden.
They will also get an education in the life cycle of butterflies and Ocean City’s role in their migration path along the eastern seaboard said Environmental Commission Chairman Rick Bernardini.
“We are happy to support the monarch butterfly migration,” he added.
He noted that the grant was around $500 for the cost of the plants and that the city owns the property at Bayside Center, so it really is a partnership between the different entities.
“The grant was ANJEC. They are the funding arm. The city is helping with topsoil and removal of grass,” Bernardini said. “We will provide hours through the year to take care of it and it is on public land. It will really provide a benefit to the community.”
The garden will be about 125 square feet and located on the south side of the property, he said.
A butterfly garden sign will be installed in the near future.
Neighboring Sea Isle City created a butterfly garden at Townsends Inlet State Park recently.
Michael Allegretto, the aide to Mayor Jay Gillian, said that the city is “very excited to have a milkweed garden at the Bayside Center.”
“One of the greatest things about the location of Ocean City being along the coast is that it is part of the monarch butterflies’ migration back to Mexico,” Allegretto said. “Normally, we see them in the largest numbers in August to September and sometimes in October.”
This past October, the Environmental Commission created a butterfly garden on the Ocean City Tabernacle grounds, 550 Wesley Ave. In that case, Tabernacle’s ARK Preschool joined in to learn about butterflies and also help with the project.
Bernardini credited two commission members, Catherine Cipolla and Betsy Lehman, for coming up with the idea for the garden at the Tabernacle as well as the one to be installed at the Bayside Center.
“These two ladies have been the driving forces on the natural gardens,” he said.
Bernardini hopes that the newest garden will be as successful as the one at the Tabernacle.
“The kids got to jump in at the Tabernacle and learn about the butterflies. We really want to do that again. The kids will learn about butterflies and caterpillars and help plant the milkweed and other plants,” Bernardini said. “It will be educational, but it will also help the butterflies to migrate through the Atlantic coast. And we will be giving them a waystation to feed and reproduce.”