The Friends of the Monarch Trail will hold its first fundraising event of the year on Sunday with a milkweed plant sale and an unusual auction.
The gathering is from 3 to 5 p.m. at the west side of the Milwaukee County Parks Department parking lot, 9480 Watertown Plank Rd.
That is also the trailhead of the Monarch Trail, which winds north through meadows on the County Grounds and then circles the Eschweiler Campus.
A protected habitat area around the Eschweilers each year attracts flocks of migrating monarch butterflies in mid-September, which fill the meadows by day and certain roosting trees by night.
Sunday's fundraiser offers an opportunity to buy young milkweed plants, the only plants on which monarchs lay eggs and upon which their caterpillars feed.
The friends group and national organizations such as Monarch Watch encourage the planting of "monarch waystations" at homes, parks, schools and elsewhere to help make up for the loss of much wild milkweed that the butterflies rely on.
The plants costs $1.50 each.
The event also features a silent auction of "pupa ports" – small baskets with dried or floral arrangements that also include a branch or twig bearing one or more live monarch caterpillar chrysalises.
The chysalises themselves are a beautiful jade green with bright gold spots, but in a matter of days or up to two weeks, they will hatch into adult monarch butterflies – quite a conversation piece and a treat for kids.
The pupa ports are made in various sizes and arrangement. Auction winners will be announced at 4:30 p.m.
Snacks and beverages will be for sale, and Friends of the Monarch Trail T-shirts will be available for $12.95 each.
Donations are also welcome, and proceeds will be used to help maintain and promote the trail and habitat plan.
For more information about the trail visit www.themonarchtrail.org or call 414-454-0222.