First published in the July 30 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.
Right on cue, a venerated monarch butterfly showed up for a meal.
Dozens had gathered at Adams Square Mini Park on Sunday morning, eager to learn about the new addition to the park’s foliage. Crews in November had planted a bed of milkweed and other native pollinators, in principal to serve as a stop for migrating monarch butterflies. There were milkweed plantings ready to be handed out to guests, along with educational materials about the insects. A crowd formed to learn about the official Monarch Butterfly Waystation designation at the park.
And then one of the endangered butterflies arrived, generating enthusiasm from adults and curiosity from children as it feasted.
The first of hopefully countless, if Raziq Rauf and the rest of the Adams Hill Neighborhood Association have their way.
“Imagine if we had this all the time,” he told the crowd as the butterfly arrived, “a life filled with butterflies.”
It may seem whimsical at first glance, but they’re deadly serious. Entomologists and ecologists have been concerned for years about declining monarch butterfly populations, the loss of which significantly impacts pollination. Officials last week classified the butterfly, swarms of which customarily traverse California during migration, as endangered.
Rauf, who has lived in the Adams Hills neighborhood in Glendale for five years, said he began growing pots of milkweed — the sole food source for monarch caterpillars — and handing them out to whichever friends and neighbors would take them. Eventually, his efforts made it to Nextdoor, which got the neighborhood association’s attention.
“So Nextdoor isn’t only for whining and complaining and speeders,” said Arlene Vidor, a member of the association. “Raz and I met, [and] he had these great ideas. We all jumped in and voila, cut to the chase, this is what happened.”
The association collaborated with the city to install the new garden, which runs along the southern wall of the park. The area recently attained formal Monarch Waystation Certification by the organization MonarchWatch.
Rauf attributed the falling monarch populations to environmental destruction from development and also the use of pesticides and herbicides in farming. People like him and his neighbors, he contends, still have the power to fix that.
“If their [migration] road is abruptly cut off, they just stop and die. We have to rebuild, and it’s doable,” he said. “As humans have affected it negatively, they can also affect it positively.”
Volunteers with the Arroyos and Foothill Conservancy joined the event on Sunday, to hand out pamphlets and donate milkweed plantings. State Sen. Anthony Portantino, a onetime volunteer with the conservancy, also awarded a proclamation to the neighborhood association for its efforts.
Rauf said he’s in talks with the city to bring such waystations to every park in Glendale. If achieved, it would be a simple and inexpensive gift to those migrating butterflies and fellow pollinators.
“You can just leave this here,” he said, gesturing to the garden. “They’ll be here forever. It’s a very low-maintenance garden.”