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Lonnie Poole Golf Course is a haven for monarch butterflies

Monarch butterflies have a special relationship with butterfly milkweed plants. They visit milkweeds for their nutritious nectar, but it is the plants themselves that are critical to monarchs’ survival. Milkweed plants are the only food that monarch caterpillars eat.
Monarch butterflies have a special relationship with butterfly milkweed plants. They visit milkweeds for their nutritious nectar, but it is the plants themselves that are critical to monarchs’ survival. Milkweed plants are the only food that monarch caterpillars eat. Noppadol Paothong

When golfers can’t find their golf balls off the beaten path at N.C. State University’s Lonnie Pool Golf Course, they may find they’re not alone.

Volunteers from the university and BASF’s crop protection division in Raleigh teamed up earlier this month to plant a variety of milkweed plants that monarch butterflies depend on both for food and reproduction.

A university report said about 750 milkweed plants and wildflowers were planted in low-impact areas of the course in hopes of establishing a monarch habitat.

According to the Endangered Species Coalition, the monarch population has decreased from as many as a billion to about 33 million nationwide over the past couple of decades. The coalition included the migratory butterfly in a series of reports on American species in danger of vanishing in the lifetime of today’s children.

Though the Lonnie Poole project alone doesn’t scratch at the monarch population, crop and soil sciences professor emeritus Harold Coble told the Technician, N.C. State University’s student newspaper, the course can become an educational resource and example for planting milkweed.

“Part of the reason why we did that is the design, construction and maintenance of this golf course has sustainability as a key focus area — sustainability in terms of conservation of water and land resources as well as economic sustainability,” Coble told the Technician. “The development of this monarch butterfly habitat goes right along with that sustainability focus.”

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