Relay to protect Monarch butterflies treks through London
Butterfly wings were spotted on the backs of Londoners Monday morning.
A group of supporters offered cheers to a runner passing through the Forest City in support of protecting endangered monarch butterflies and their habitats.
Jodi McNeil, of Orangeville, Ont. picked up where a London runner left off Sunday evening.
“The monarch butterfly is the ultra-runner of the insect world,” she exclaimed to CTV News London.
McNeil is just the latest to put her feet to the pavement during two relay runs covering 6,000 kilometres.
In 2019, ultra-runners in Canada, the United States and Mexico followed the 4,300 km migratory path of the Monarch butterflies from Ontario to the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Preserve in Central Mexico. Along the way, they raised $10,000.
With COVID-19, the event could not be duplicated in 2021 as planned, but race co-founder, Carlotta James, still found a way to engage Canadians.
“I’ve been inspired by nature my whole life and I’m also a runner.”
The result is a 21-day, 1,800 km relay through Ontario following a winding course from Peterborough to Barrie.
Each runner is covering a 25 to 50 km section.
London to Tillsonburg is day 16.
“We’re here because monarchs are special and they help our environment,” stated Violet Smith, a student at Tecumseh Public School. She was among several children who came out wearing fabric Monarch wings on their backs.
Linda Smith speaks in London, Ont. on Monday, Oct. 4, 2021. (Sean Irvine / CTV News)
Smith's interest was inspired by her mother Linda Smith, an employee with the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority. She says Londoners need to step up to help the species.
“They are really making a magnificent trek from London and other parts of Ontario down to Mexico. And, the things we can do, like planting pollinator plants really do help them on that trek.”
James says placing milkweed in your garden is the best way to attract monarchs.
“As soon you plant a pollinator garden, not only will you see monarchs, you’ll see all types of pollinators; birds, bees, and butterflies.”
While awareness is a key objective of the runs, funds raised by direct participation or a virtual 10K run will go to Camp Kawartha, a non-profit group that provides nature programming for youth.
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