The Pedernales Electric Cooperative is stepping up to help its members plant wildflowers to benefit pollinators such as the monarch butterfly. The member-owned cooperative is offering free packets of wildflower seed mix at any PEC office as well a few partner locations.
The mix includes native wildflower seeds such as milkweed, which is an essential plant for monarch butterfly survival.
According to the National Wildlife Federation, monarch caterpillars “feed exclusively” on milkweed leaves. It serves as the host plant for the monarch species, making it vital for its survival.
The PEC wildflower seed mix contains antelope horn milkweed and green milkweed along with 14 other wildflower species seed.
The pollinating plants can help monarchs as they migrate across the Highland Lakes in the fall to their wintering lands in Mexico and then return north in the spring. According to the PEC, millions of the migrating monarch make their way across the cooperative’s 8,100 square miles of service area.
Within those square miles are thousands of backyards and gardens that belong to members, areas where the wildflower seeds can become way stations for the migrating monarchs.
The wildflowers are also a boon for other pollinators, including other butterflies and native bees.
“We’re proud to help our natural resources for future generations to enjoy,” said Julie Caruthers Parsley, PEC chief executive officer. “We encourage our members and communities to join us in preserving populations of monarchs that help pollinate and beautify this place we call home.”
Monarch butterflies face a dual threat when it comes to their habitat. The monarchs that hail from the eastern part of North America winter in the Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico. Even though the Mexican government created the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in 1986, the threat of illegal logging continues. The loss of these forested areas would mean less winter habitat for the monarchs.
The second threat comes from loss of habitat, or native and supportive plants, along the monarchs’ migratory routes in the United States. As land is developed or plowed for agriculture row crops, much of the natural habitat is destroyed.
According to PEC, by 2021, monarch butterflies could land on the Endangered Species list. In 2019, PEC proactively launched efforts to protect the monarch by voluntarily implementing solutions that benefit the environment, wildlife and its members longterm.
The cooperative created a monarch way station at its Johnson City headquarters that is certified and registered with Monarch Watch, a nonprofit that works to create, conserve, and protect monarch habitat.
The free seed packets offer PEC members a way to create places where monarchs and other pollinators can rest, feed, or collect pollen.
Seed packets are available at any PEC office, including the Marble Falls location at 4301 U.S. 281 North and the Bertram location at 365 Texas 29 East. PEC has also partnered with several other organizations to hand out the seed packets, including the city of Burnet, 1001 Buchanan Drive (Texas 29), Suite 4, in Burnet.
For more information on helping monarchs or the PEC’s efforts, go to the cooperative’s wildlife conservation page.