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Butterfly day activities March 14 at Chickasaw Cultural Center

SULPHUR, Okla. – The Chickasaw Nation will celebrate "National Learn About Butterflies Day" March 14 at the Chickasaw Cultural Center (CCC). It is a day to be entertained and learn about butterflies and their unique importance in the ecosystem.

The day will feature games, traditional arts, horticulture tours and other activities. Visitors may interact with butterflies in various onsite venues and participate in a scavenger hunt.

A feature film "Flight of the Butterflies" will be screened in the Anoli' Theater at 11:30 a.m. and against at 3 p.m. The CCC opens at 10 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m.

Last week, environmental experts in Mexico said the number of acres used by the creatures to survive the winter declined for the second consecutive year. Mexico's El Rosario Butterfly Sanctuary experts said only 6 acres were used by millions of monarchs.

In 2016, 7.19 acres were used. In the 1950s and 1960s, monarchs covered more than 40 acres and their numbers were in the billions. The sanctuary is located west of Mexico City.

Mexican officials attribute the decline to a particularly active hurricane season during migration, several days of atypical wintery weather and clear-cut logging operations.

The Chickasaw Nation has partnered with Monarch Watch, a University of Kansas project aimed at helping monarchs feast, thrive and procreate during annual spring migrations north and return migration to wintering grounds in Mexico.

For several years, the Chickasaw Nation has planted milkweed and nectar-rich plants throughout the tribe's 13-county territory in hopes of making a difference in the butterfly's declining population.

Working with Monarch Watch, a "hoop" greenhouse, located near the cultural center's Traditional Village, was constructed two years ago. It offers a controlled enclosure for growing plants year-round. Monarchs may enter to feed and depart the structure safely.

Monarchs lay eggs on milkweed plants. Their offspring feed only on milkweed plants and go through three stages of life before constructing a chrysalis. They emerge as the "king of all butterflies" with brilliant orange, black and white coloring.

Approximately 145 million monarchs survived the winter. This is off from more than 300 million a decade ago and an estimated 1 billion butterflies in the mid-1990s.

For more information about the special event, phone the cultural center at 580-622-7130.


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