Monarch butterflies to be featured at Pollinator Expo

Continuing the commitment to pollinator revitalization, Wright-Patterson AFB will hold its second annual Pollinator Expo June 20 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Wright Brothers Memorial near Area B.

“This year’s Pollinator Expo will be even bigger than last year,” said Danielle Trevino, 88th Civil Engineering Environmental Protection specialist. “We have expanded by adding guest speakers, free children’s activities and a free screening of “The Guardians,” a documentary about monarch butterflies. Pollinator-related items will also be available to purchase as well as food and drinks from one of the food trucks that will be there.”

This year’s expo will highlight the monarch butterfly.

“Just like bees, monarchs are an important pollinator species that, primarily due to habitat loss and fragmentation, have been facing drastic declines in the last few years,” said Trevino.

At the expo, more than 30 informational tables from various organizations, ranging from parks to colleges across the state will be in attendance highlighting their efforts and offering guidance on how to help improve the pollinator population.

During the expo, “The Guardians” documentary will be shown every hour in the interpretation center at the Wright Brothers Memorial with guest speakers speaking at the top of every hour on a variety of topics related to pollinators.

The guest speaker line up is as follows:

• 11 a.m.: Hope Taft, first lady of Ohio from 1999-2007, heritage and pollinator garden at the Ohio governor’s mansion;

• Noon: Barbara Bloetscher, Ohio entomologist and apiarist, basic beekeeping and how to keep sustainable honey bee colonies;

• 1 p.m.: Dwight Wells, Propolis Project beekeeper and president of West Central Ohio Beekeepers Association, honey bee farming.

• 2 p.m.: Dr. Hongmei Li-Byarlay, professor at Central State University College of Science and Engineering, Agricultural Research and Development Program, stresses for colony survival.

At last year’s inaugural event, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base became the first military installation to be designated as a Bee City USA. Bee City USA is a program for communities to pledge their commitment to reverse the threats currently facing pollinators and to raise awareness and enhance habitats for the bee population.

Due to disease, lack of land to forage and exposures to pesticides, there has been a significant decline in the bee population and other pollinators over the last few decades. Pollinators are essential to pollinating one-third of the food consumed in the world. such as fruits, vegetables and nuts that require the pollination process to develop.

“We are committed to the conservation of pollinators and have several projects planned,” said Trevino. “Since last year, the 88th Civil Engineering Natural Resources division harvested seeds from Huffman Prairie over the summer and fall so we can turn around and utilize the seeds this fall to plant and grow more habitats for pollinators.”

In addition to harvesting seeds from the Huffman Prairie, the 88th Civil Engineering Natural Resources division actively manages the prairie with the help of volunteers to keep invasive and exotic species out in order to allow the native prairie habitat to thrive.

Regarding monarch conservation, Trevino said one way to help mitigate the loss of monarchs is to build “monarch waystations” to provide monarchs with the plant species they need to survive.

The 88th Civil Engineering Natural Resources division will create two monarch waystations, an area to provide a habitat necessary for monarch conservation. In June, the first station will be created at the Wright-Patterson Youth Center in the Prairies.

“Not only will the station help the monarch population, it will also serve as an educational outreach opportunity,” said Trevino. The children at the youth center will help with the waystation so they will learn about the importance of preserving the pollinator population by planting the plants and learning how to maintain it.”

The second monarch waystation will be at the interpretive center at the Wright Brothers Memorial and will be maintained by the national park service. Once both gardens are complete, interpretive signage will be added for the public to read and understand the importance of monarchs and waystations.

“Anyone can help with pollinator conservation,” said Trevino. “By adding native pollinator friendly landscaping to their own yards, it will help sustain the monarchs and other pollinator populations.”

For additional information on the pollinator expo, go to the Wright-Patterson Natural Resources Facebook page, or contact Danielle Trevino at 937-257-8555.

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