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ButterBike at Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo by Mara Koenig/USFWS

ButterBike at Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo by Mara Koenig/USFWS.

Bicycle adventurer follows migrating monarchs

Sara Dykman “ButterBikes with the butterflies” to give a voice to one of the quietest, and yet most amazing, animal migrations on earth: the multinational, multigenerational migration of monarch butterflies. This year, Sara is bicycling with monarch butterflies more than 10,000 miles from overwintering grounds in Mexico, to Canada, and back again.

Sara Dykman is traveling 10,000 miles, following the monarch butterfly migration to raise awareness of the migration and population decline. Photo by Mara Koenig.
Sara Dykman is traveling 10,000 miles, following the monarch butterfly migration to raise awareness of the migration and population decline. Photo by Mara Koenig/USFWS.

Sara stops along the way to talk to people about their monarch conservation efforts, give public presentations, and work on creating native plant habitat. ButterBike presentations give participants a new perspective on the monarch butterfly’s migration and population decline. In recent weeks, Sara’s travels have taken her to two Midwest national wildlife refuges.

On May 20, Sara arrived at DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge after traveling over 2,600 miles from the El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve near Zitácuaro, Mexico. DeSoto invited ButterBike because Sara’s message supports the refuge’s work to plant more milkweed in critical monarch habitat in the core migration route. Seventy participants came out to learn about monarch’s epic migration, their lifecycle and habitat, and what is being done to save this iconic insect. Her presentation made an impact; participants had many questions about how to plant milkweed and start a pollinator garden.

On June 2, Sara was the special guest at a Butterfly Bike-Along event hosted by Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge and Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board at the Lake Nokomis Community Center. Inspired by Sara’s ride, Twin Cities residents gathered to celebrate the return of monarch by biking around Lake Nokomis and learning about local monarch conservation efforts. Sara wasn’t the only one on hand to share her knowledge; participants could interact with monarch experts from University of Minnesota Monarch Lab, Nokomis East Neighborhood Association, Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Monarch naturalists, and Naturescape and Wild Ones. Kids took home butterfly kites and other monarch-themed crafts, and adults took home free milkweed plants and pollinator seed balls and information about creating monarch habitat.

Sara cycles about 300 miles a week to keep up with the migration and brings all of her camping and presentation gear with her. Host families give her a place to rest and refuel during her journey. Monarchs need food and resting stops along their journey too, which is why Sara’s programs focus on the importance of native plants for pollinators and how milkweed is the only food source for monarch butterfly caterpillars.

Sara says everyone can be part of the monarch migration by planting native gardens with milkweed. Even a plant on a patio or porch can help save the monarch.

By Melissa A. Clark
Regional Office - External Affairs

Last updated: June 8, 2017