Monarch Butterfly Way Station Planned for Nelsonville

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What started essentially as a beautification project has undergone a metamorphosis into a plan to establish a monarch butterfly way station in Nelsonville.

Earlier this year, residents Miki and Jay Brooks bought a former greenhouse property in Nelsonville, located between Jackson and Canal Streets, and recently had the old greenhouse buildings demolished.

“It was an eyesore,” Miki Brooks said. “It was sad to see the greenhouses continue to deteriorate. At one time that was a viable business.”

Tearing down the greenhouses left vacant space.

“All we were going to do is plant grass,” Brooks said. That was until friend Janelle Gellermann of Nelsonville approached her with the idea of creating a monarch way station.

That will involve growing milkweed on which monarchs lay eggs and their caterpillars feed, and planting nectar flowers for the mature butterflies.

Gellermann, a master gardener, said nectar plants are being donated by other master gardeners in the area. She said the plan is to plant the flowers and milkweed seed this fall as a boarder along two sides of the property.

To be a certified monarch way station requires at least 100 square feet of space, according to Gellermann, who said there is more than enough space at the Nelsonville site.

The plan is to submit the site for certification to Monarch Watch at the University of Kansas. The national Monarch Waystation project was developed by Monarch Watch because milkweed and nectar sources are declining due to development and use of herbicides.

Gellermann had attended information sessions about the Athens Monarch Waystation Project, led by Appalachian Ohio Sierra Club members Loraine McCosker, Char Rae and Nancy Walker. The goal of the project is to encourage community members in the region to create habitat that will support monarch butterflies.

There has been discussion of creating a mural on a wall at the Nelsonville site, adding benches and plant markers and putting in a monarch butterfly informational kiosk.

“I can see it being a place where people could stop by and walk through it,” Brooks said, including school groups. “I think it would be great to have a great big bunch of monarchs flying around Nelsonville.”