Introducing Rick Mikula - The Butterfly Guy

Introducing Rick Mikula - The Butterfly Guy

Gardener Jeanine here from Frame It All and we have some very exciting news to share with you!!  This new year brings us a new adventure and we would love to go on this adventure with you, so here we go!

 

The big news for everyone today is a wonderful introduction to Rick Mikula, The Butterfly Guy.  Rick will be sharing his wisdom and really, his passion, with all of us on our Blog page often and we wouldn't want you to miss out on anything so watch for updates often.  I can't tell you how excited I am to have "The Butterfly Guy" teaching me, and all of us, about how to help butterflies thrive!  Without further delay, please welcome Rick to the Frame It All family as he shares his amazing background with all of us.  Rick, take it away!

 

Rick Mikula butterfly nose pic1 Rick Mikula - The Butterfly Guy

 

It’s a new year for us, and hopefully a new era for monarch butterflies. And can they ever use one! With each day passing, it has become apparent that not enough is being done to alleviate the monarch population from growing peril. If much isn’t done soon, we face losing this important species, and pollinator, forever. Illegal logging in overwintering sites has destroyed most of the habitat the monarchs consider home in Mexico. Massive overuse of herbicides (such as Glyphosate) continue to kill milkweed—the plant needed for monarch to continue to lay eggs and reproduce. Combined this with roadside mowing and the growing threat of climate change, and I guess you can say that these creatures haven’t been able to catch a break. Until now.

 

I have been raising butterflies, as well as lecturing as an educator, for the last 35 years. In that time I’ve seen fluctuations in monarch population numbers more than once. Unfortunately over the past few years, their numbers have plummeted dramatically. There were years where I could net, tag, and release several hundreds of monarchs in a single afternoon. Now, it takes me several hours to just find a decent patch of milkweed that hasn’t also been sprayed with a herbicide. What used to be acres of (primarily corn and soybean) croplands, interspersed with milkweed, has been transformed into the monarch’s worst nightmare. The emergence of genetically modified crops, which are resistant to these herbicides, has only contributed to the increasing loss of habitat for the monarch.

monarch picture 1 Monarch Caterpillar and Butterfly with milkweed.

This loss is alarming, and a choice has to be made. When you are involved with butterflies 24/7 as I am, the possibility of a positive outcome has become seemingly doubtful. Sometimes, it takes everything you have to not just throw your hands in the air out of frustration and despair. That was until Anthony Topping from Frame-It-All called me one morning with a concept that I couldn’t say no to: the Monarch Migration Station.

 

In the last three decades I thought that I had heard it all: gimmicks, unreachable dreams, and some really bad ideas. These concepts seemed to either be money making schemes or ideas that didn't really have any merit to them. It was heartbreaking to say the least.

 

As the father of the first patented modular raised garden system, Anthony was intrigued to design a raised garden bed specifically for monarch butterflies…and I couldn’t be more excited. The selling point that hit home for me wasn’t only the unit’s design; but also, I was especially inspired by Anthony’s desire to help monarchs. Once he explained his mission to create habitats that wouldn’t just help the monarchs survive, but also thrive, you couldn’t keep me from jumping on board.

 

Two of the major threats facing monarchs in their annual migration are the lack of available milkweed plants in the Spring, leaving monarchs without a place to lay their eggs, and the lack of suitable nectar plants to refuel with in the Fall. This is where I feel as if the Monarch Migration Station comes into play. What I loved about it’s base concept is that it not only addresses the need for milkweed and nectar plants in the Spring and Fall, but also, that it offers all butterflies a safe nurturing habitat all season long. After seeing how beautifully the design worked last summer, I too have replaced all of my flight and breeding houses with Monarch Migration Stations.

migration station nursery 1 Migration Station - Frame It All

I am now diligently watching the skies and waiting for winter to end so that I can set my Migration Stations back up to start raising more butterflies. Not only do I have hope for Monarchs this year, but I now know I can make a difference in their lives and numbers with my Monarch Migration Station.

 

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