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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Welcoming winged guests

Monarchs discover 'Vacancy' sign in Duluth, Minn.

All are welcome at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church — including those with wings. 

Thanks to Tom Uecker, a monarch expert and Gloria Dei member, the church property in the center of Duluth, Minn., includes a certified monarch way station. Surrounded by concrete parking lots and mortar of tall buildings, the station provides a place of rest, nectar and sanctuary for monarchs in all stages: from egg, to larvae, to caterpillar, to chrysalis, to butterfly.

This resting place sustains them and helps them produce future generations — crucial since monarch migration is endangered.  

“Even an urban area with a little green earth works for a monarch way station,” Uecker said. “The monarchs are finding us. I’ve found eggs and caterpillars in our gardens.”   

This habitat creates the perfect environment for monarchs, which migrate each spring to the U.S. and Canada, and then return again in the fall to central Mexico.  

In the way station they lay their eggs, which develop until caterpillar larvae hatch. Caterpillars feed on the milkweed and create their chrysalides. Finally, butterflies emerge from the chrysalis and hang on the plants to dry their newly formed wings until they’re ready to fly away.  

Monarchs need all the help they can get to safely make their migration and to create the next generation, Uecker said. Development, overuse of herbicides and genetically modified crop practices all reduce the amount of land suitable for monarch habitat, he added.

“The whole idea is not to have one huge space, but to have a lot of little ones throughout the area,” Uecker said.

Contact Uecker for more information at tluecker1@msn.com. For “Creating a way station,” find this story at www.thelutheran.org/feature/april.


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