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RWC residents create butterfly habitat

With monarch butterfly populations dramatically declining over the past few years, residents at Rappahannock Westminster-Canterbury in Irvington are aiding in the rescue.

RWC residents Nick Ferriter and Jane Henley bought 200 Swamp Milkweed seedlings—selling almost 100 for residents to plant and planting more than 100 themselves in wetlands near the RWC planting gardens to support and feed the distinctive orange and black butterflies.

“The health of monarch butterflies is important to watch because they are like the canary in the coal mine,” said Ferriter, a member of the Northern Neck Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society. “If their population dwindles, it’s likely that other insect populations are struggling as well.”

Habitat destruction, climate change, and pesticide pollution have been cited as likely culprits, as has planting non-native plants. Monarchs lay their eggs on milkweed and that is the only food their caterpillars will eat.

“Monarch butterflies have a...

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