We are Kitchi Memengwa, The Great Butterfly, Urban Ojibwa Monarch Butterfly Conservatory. We are located at the corner of Victoria Ave. S. and Hunter St. E. and everybody is welcome to visit in season.
The Monarch Butterflies wintering in the South already woke up from their torpor! We expect to see the first arrivals mid May! We will start 1/3 of our Zinnia plants indoors this week. Zinnias do very well when the seeds are planted directly in the ground after the last frost and they begin blooming and offering their exceptional rich nectar by the end of June. The reward for the small effort to start the Zinnias indoors is that those plants bloom much earlier and this early food source serves the first wave of very hungry Monarchs and Swallowtails arriving to Hamilton. Zinnia’s nectar fuels the butterflies’ body fat and because of this, they are able to lay more eggs…in Hamilton, and thus, our local population increases!
Our small front yard breeding habitat and migration way station is a success because of the combination of rich nectar flowers, the flamboyant colorful Zinnias, and the Milkweed, the nursery plant. During the 2023 season we fostered 260 eggs and tiny caterpillars found in our milkweed. We only lost 3 chrysalises to the Black Death and we released 257 Monarchs and 28 swallowtails. This success rate caught the eye of Rob Howard and he wrote a brilliant article in the Spectator; and the article caught the attention of the prestigious Hamilton Garden Club and they invited us to do our first public presentation at Dundurn Castle, March 1! We were star- struck! Such a sophisticated audience in such a fancy setting! Happy to report that their positive & warm reception added strength to our resolution to do more and to implement 3 other plans: Expansion of the Habitat; an Observatory; and a Seven Turns Labyrinth.
In the “Observatory”, butterfly lovers can sit comfortably 3 feet away from the “action”! The Labyrinth will be open for walking meditations on special occasions.