between SW 10th St and SW 8th St | Urban Resiliency Solutions
The Monarch butterfly and the Milkweed Plant
It’s nice to see you! I’m the monarch butterfly, the pollinator from the Fern Room and the Oolite Room. You can see me all through The Underline Brickell Backyard Promenade. Hint: Look for me behind the Sound Stage!
My scientific name is Danaus plexippus. In Greek, Danaus plexippus means sleepy transformation. You’ll see the scientific names mentioned after the common name for all of our plants and animals as you learn more. Scientific names are more specific than common names. If you have the time, look up what each of them means! You’ll learn something new each time!
My scientific name makes it seem like I sleep a lot. I actually don’t, but I do undergo metamorphosis! That is the incredible change that I, and all other butterflies, go through in order to outgrow the child caterpillar stage to become an adult butterfly. We “sleep” in our cocoons or chrysalis before we hatch and embark on an amazing migratory phenomenon.
Monarchs travel, migrate, between 1,200 to 2,800 miles from the northeast United States and southeast Canada to the mountain forests in central Mexico. We’ll stay there from early November to mid-March in search of the right climate to hibernate and lay our eggs. Migratory monarch butterflies can live up to nine months, while non-migratory butterflies live anywhere from two weeks to six weeks. Can you believe that something smaller than the palm of your hand flies across the United States? Isn’t that amazing?
If you visited the Fern Room, you might remember how the atala butterfly coexists with the coontie plant. The two need each other in order to thrive because the atala butterfly gets food while the coontie plant gets pollinated by the atala. The monarch butterflies have the same mutualistic relationship with the milkweed plant (Asclepias syriaca).
The monarch butterfly larvae eat the leaves of the milkweed. Most species of this plant are toxic to humans and pets, so watch out! Some species of milkweed cause mild dermatitis to humans, which can make their skin itchy or irritated. Monarch butterflies eat and require the milkweed as host (food) plants for their larvae.
Sadly, in 2021, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) added migratory monarch butterflies to their Red List of endangered animals. Not all monarch butterflies are migratory (for example, the ones in South Florida do not migrate), but the fact that they were placed on the Red List is very concerning.
Did you know that you can help? You can plant milkweed for monarch butterflies to visit and be careful with the pesticides you use. Pesticides kill unwanted pests, but can also hurt monarch butterflies depending on what chemicals are in the pesticides.
Deep Injection Wells: Mitigating stormwater
You don’t see them, but you will certainly want to thank them after reading this. They are Deep Injection Wells and are responsible for sending wastewater into a deep storage place underneath the ground. Deep Injection Wells began to be widely used in the 1930s, when oil companies looked for ways to dispose of brine. They are an economical and safe way to dispose of hazardous byproducts because they do not pose any risk to the groundwater that sits above it. They are monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and have 6 classifications for wells. Each one stores a different type of waste. The most common type is a type 5, which stores non-hazardous fluids, like stormwater.
Why is this important? Many areas in the Brickell area are prone to flood because of low elevation and street drainage capacity. The deep injection wells collect large amounts of water protecting both The Underline and neighboring streets from flood conditions.
We hear a lot about carbon dioxide, but what about carbon? Carbon is an element and is critical for all life on Earth. One of its amazing features is its bonding versatility, which allows it to create numerous stable compounds critical to life itself. We hear more about carbon dioxide because it is a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. A greenhouse gas keeps plants nice and warm by trapping the sun’s heat. The greenhouse that they cover is our Earth. Today Climate change is an important topic. Climate change can best be described as long-term shifts in temperature and weather patterns. These changes can be natural and they can be man-made. Burning fossil fuels (like coal, oil, and gas) produces carbon dioxide.
What can we do about greenhouse gases and pollution? One method is carbon sequestration. Carbon sequestration is the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide in a safe form. Naturally, plants, oceans, and soil store carbon. Humans can also store carbon by putting carbon far underground around specific materials. Plants and trees help to reduce greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide, by absorbing the carbon dioxide from the air into their leaves and converting it to oxygen. This process is called photosynthesis, capture of carbon, and respiration, the release of oxygen. The Underline helps to reduce carbon by restoring the environment below the Metrorail with the addition of hundreds of thousands of plants and trees. Pollution from cars is absorbed by the plants and trees.
There’s another thing that humans can do to help decrease pollution: recycle! Recycling is the process of collecting materials and making them into something else. For example, paper can be recycled to make cardboard. In 2018, more than 52 million tons of paper products were recycled, which equates to the weight of 350,000 blue whales, the world’s largest animal. The United States recycles enough iron each year to build more than 900 Golden Gate Bridges. Recycling has grown by 300% in the past 38 years. All of this is a lot of material to take in and recycle!
There are many different ways to recycle depending on where you live. Five types of items should be recycled: paper, cardboard, cans, cartons, and bottles. These items don’t need to be separated; just put them in the recycling bins and know that you are making a difference!