Pollinators are on the decline due to invasive species, disease, parasites, environmental contaminants and habitat loss. Losing these essential species poses a threat to the environment, other animals and us. At least 80 percent of the plant food in the world depends on visits from pollinators to grow. One of the ways we can help is by planting butterfly gardens.
The butterfly garden at Sugar Land Memorial Park was created in 2016. The garden is made up of nectar-rich plants that attract and feed butterflies and other pollinators. Insects such as bees, butterflies, bats, hummingbirds and certain birds pollinate plants.
Most of the plants in our butterfly garden are native to Texas and tolerate hot, drought-like summer conditions well. Milkweed and Turk’s Cap are prominent features of the garden, as well as American beautyberry and scarlet sage.
Monarchs will only lay eggs on milkweed. When they hatch and become caterpillars, they only eat milkweed leaves. Milkweed contains toxins that the caterpillars accumulate in their bodies. These toxins make adult butterflies taste unpleasant, and would-be predators know not to eat them.
At the opposite end of the garden, flame acanthus attracts hummingbirds to its flowers because of their tube-like shape and bright red color. The trees in the garden are Texas redbud, which bloom in the spring and draw all types of pollinators.
Pollinators feed on a plant’s pollen, nectar and sometimes the flowers themselves. While visiting the flowers, pollen is transferred from the male to the female parts of the flowers. This ensures that a plant will reproduce and bear fruit and seeds.
An additional Butterfly Garden was planted in Spring 2022 outside of Sugar Land City Hall Annex, and there are pollinator meadows at Brazos River Park.
In 2021, Sugar Land Parks & Recreation took the action steps needed to be part of the National Wildlife Federation's Mayors' Monarch Pledge, through which U.S. cities, municipalities, and other communities commit to create habitat for the monarch butterfly and pollinators, and to educate residents about how they can make a difference at home and in their community.