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Month dedicated to butterfly education

Submitted photo / Marisa Termine

CORTLAND — At a recent city council meeting, Mayor Deidre Petrosky announced May as Monarch Butterfly Education Month in the city.

Petrosky said in March she received an email encouraging her to join the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge — a program put on by the National Wildlife Foundation.

“I knew nothing about it, so I did my research and found the population (of monarch butterflies) has dropped 90 percent since the 1990s. That really shocked me,” Petrosky said.

The Mayors’ Monarch Pledge program launched in 2015 to engage cities and communities in monarch and pollinator conservation, according to the foundation’s website. More than 300 different communities nationwide have signed the pledge. Of those communities, 11 are in Ohio, and Cortland is the lone community in Trumbull and Mahoning counties.

One of the reasons Petrosky signed the pledge is personal.

“I think monarch butterflies are really cool. For lots of kids, and I remember doing this as well, we raised monarch butterflies in school from the time they were a caterpillar to a butterfly. That’s a magical process,” Petrosky said.

Personal reasons aside, Petrosky noted the impact these butterflies, as well as other pollinators, have on produce production. She said the declining population is an indicator that other pollinators are dying off as well.

“If this happens, we will see an impact on our produce,” Petrosky said.

She added the pledge isn’t complicated. The first steps Petrosky took consist of issuing the official proclamation and launching a public effort. The city sends out weekly electronic news blurbs, and she will start to include information and facts to raise awareness, as well as what the public can do to lend a hand in conservation efforts.

The city also is working to put in a milkweed pollinator garden. According to the National Wildlife Foundation, as caterpillars, monarchs feed exclusively on the leaves of milkweed, so planting a milkweed garden seemed like a good start, Petrosky said.

The garden will be put in Willow Park sometime this month, Petrosky said.

“If we all do our part, it will help greatly,” Petrosky said. “A series of small steps from small groups or individuals can have a big impact.”

nhawthorne@tribtoday.com

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