Former councilman hopes his passion project will take wing
Welcome to West U’s monarch sanctuary
By George Boehme
Former City Councilmember Steven Segal is the savior
started when the 45-year West U resident read about
the species’ ever-reducing population and decided to do
something about it.
And he wants to enlist you.
nothing short of a massacre. Indeed, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service summed it up in just one grim statistic: Since 1990,
about about 1 billion monarchs have vanished, primarily because
of the nation’s overall reduction in milkweed.
Monarchs cannot survive without the milkweed; their caterpil-
their eggs on the milkweed leaf. The adults are attracted to the
Because milkweed is not a cash crop and is viewed by farmers
as a nuisance, it has been eliminated from many farms chemically.
Other milkweed acreage has been swallowed by housing
Segal believes that if we will simply plant milkweed in our
yards, we can increase the monarchs’ numbers.
developed into a journey. His front yard is the home of a pro-
pillars a predator-free environment for 17-or-so days until they
reaches the chrysalis stage, essentially a cocoon. About eight
days later, the monarch newborns emerge, and Segal releases
them to spread their wings and go their own way.
to 3,000 miles from the northeastern U.S. and Canada to the
Mexico, to escape the frosts of winter. So miraculous and stunning
are the grounds that they are a major ecotourism destination
and have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage
Site. The fragile-looking creatures are anything but: Monarch
This annual trek is required for the monarchs because they
can’t survive the cold northern winters while many other but-
to make a two-way migration each year, similar to birds.
There are four types of milkweed that grow particularly well in
West university Place:
•White swamp milkweed
•Carmine swamp milk
Remember that they are
a weed, albeit a beautiful
one, and can all be grown
easily from seed. Seeds
are available online, and
plants will be available in
late February at most local
There is a wealth of information
about the monarch
Page 16 WEST U ESSENTIALS
RIGHT: Segal nurtures his
caterpillars as if they were his