SG589: How to Save the Monarchs with Kylee Baumle


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On today’s show, I welcome a tender-hearted friend of the Monarch cause - Kylee Baumle and she’s written a book called The Monarch: Saving Our Most-Loved Butterfly.

Now I’m going to tell you something most professionals in the gardening industry already know and that is this: Kylee is a huge supporter of the Monarch cause. She’s in the army of citizen scientists working to make sure that monarch habitat is preserved and she’s trying to make sure that everyday gardeners like you and me know how to play a role in their protection and conservation. All of that is good and worthwhile work.

For me, what makes Kylee’s work (and book and all of her endeavors to learn more and do more on behalf of Monarchs) all the more special - is her personal story of how she came to enlist in this cause. I think it’s a story of kismet - of divine alignment - and it started with a little road trip.

I won’t ruin this lovely story - because Kylee talks about it in the show today - but I do want to point out that Kylee’s mom was with her - back when her journey started. As a sentimental gal myself, I think that it makes the whole story extra special. I had the chance to meet Kylee's lovely mother, Louise, at the garden bloggers fling earlier this year. I have to say that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. As a gardener, I know you understand what I mean when I say, you just couldn’t find lovelier people than Kylee and her mom Louise. They are just good people, good gardeners, and both have a love for the natural world. So the more I learned of how fate brought Kylee to a personal calling of sorts - to stand up for Monarchs - the message and the information in her book just took on a whole deeper meaning for me. I think it will for you as well.

What were you doing 10 years ago? Imagine being able to go back in time and tell your old self what you’re up to today. How things have turned out. How chance encounters set you on a new path to something you could have never imagined. That’s Kylee’s story. Without spoiling the story, suffice it to say, Kylee didn’t imagine herself when she was a little girl growing up to be a Champion for Monarchs. And no, she didn't go to school to save the Monarchs.

When she was getting married and raising kids and working in her non-gardening career. Monarchs probably didn’t make her top 100 - make that top 1 million - list. But then suddenly - there they were. The Monarchs were on her radar. They were impacting her reading choices, her spare time, her garden, and her life. And, they became a passion project for her. Kylee began learning all she could about Monarchs. She started studying up. She became a citizen scientist - participating in several programs to provide data to researchers studying monarchs (through Monarch Watch with the University of Kansas, and Journey North, which reports migration sightings, roosts and other key monarch data). She made sure her rural Ohio garden could become a Certified Monarch Waystation (#948) since 2006, Then she also made sure her garden was also a Certified Wildlife Habitat, and then she registered with Pollinator Partnership as part of The Million Pollinator Garden Challenge. And somewhere along the way, she began to conceive of a book to help spread the word - the book she’s sharing with us today - simply called The Monarch: Saving Our Most-Loved Butterfly. In Kylee’s bio, she writes that "Discovering the unique and beautiful monarch butterfly has helped her appreciate how so many things in nature depend on so many other things, including human beings.” To be sure, they are depending on us. Frankly, Monarchs are in trouble - which makes the work of people, like Kylee, who care about saving monarchs all the more important. I noticed right away that Kylee’s book is called The Monarch: Saving Our Most-Loved Butterfly. Most- Loved. It’s that emotional connection - that love for them - that makes people take pay attention. Across the country, people are planting milkweed in their front yards! Folks respond when they hear about the plight of Monarchs - we really do love them. It’s that special affection for Monarchs that makes Kylee wants her grandchildren to not only be able to tell the wondrous story of the monarch to their own children and grandchildren, but to be able to show them much of it firsthand.

Ten years ago, Kylee’s chance encounter with a Monarch made her want to learn more, discover more, and do more on their behalf. That little spark of curiosity and love would grow into a decades worth of experiences - culminating in Kylee writing book and experiencing a rare, once-in-a-lifetime trip as Kylee (like her beloved Monarchs), made her way to the sanctuary in Mexico. Isn’t it funny, how life turns out? Who can say that a single Monarch can’t find their way into someone’s heart? It can happen. It did happen. It’s time to float like a butterfly - a beloved monarch butterfly - and join the effort to save them with today’s guest: Kylee Baumle.


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Link to this week's quotables

Helpful Timestamps

The Garden News Roundup

Timestamp 15:00


Timestamp: 36:40

Kylee, are you now known as the monarch lady due to your extensive work in this field?

Timestamp 42:40

Is the monarch movement becoming more mainstream this year than in years past?

Timestamp 43:50

Do you see a lot of monarchs on your property?

Timestamp 45:00

Why don’t we first start by having you read page 15 of your book, How to Save the Monarchs

Timestamp 47:25

How has Dr. Brower’s, of Sweet Briar College, expertises helped you better understand this insect?

Timestamp 51:10

There’s a fair amount of controversy, skepticism, and criticism on why the monarchs are disappearing. With this in mind, were there some challenges with writing a book like this?

Timestamp 54:00

Loss of habitat is such a subtle thing, but it is an indication of a much bigger problem and it often goes unnoticed until it’s too late.

Timestamp 1:00:40

What is the reaction from people when you give a presentation on the monarch?

Timestamp 1:02:25

You write in the book that the males are bigger than females and once they reach adulthood, they don’t grow anymore.

Timestamp 1:05:05

In your book, you discuss the life cycle of the monarch. Can you please read how many eggs a monarch butterfly typically lays and then take us through its life cycle?

Timestamp 1:06:30

Are there any tips and tricks to protecting the caterpillar?

Timestamp 1:12:45

There are a few varieties of caterpillars/butterflies that look like monarchs, but aren’t. What are some of the different varieties out there that can fool us?

Timestamp 1:19:45

On page 48, you discuss pesticides. I love that you included this in your book because it is often a topic of confusion for many gardeners.

Timestamp 1:26:10

Planting more milkweed means more than planting just one type of species of milkweed. There are a ton of varieties to choose from.

Timestamp 1:32:00

What are the different types of milkweed varieties that are available to us?

Timestamp 1:39:30

Why is there a debate around tropical milkweed?

Timestamp 1:50:30

In your book, you also list some of the major predators of the monarch. What should gardeners look out for?

Timestamp 1:59:10

Should we separate the caterpillars if we are growing them in our home?

Timestamp 2:01:55

What was it like traveling to Mexico to see the monarch migration?

Timestamp 2:11:05

You took a picture of the rules of the monarch sanctuary. The locals really recognize the importance of this butterfly, don’t they?

Timestamp 2:25:50

I love that your mom is also part of the monarch movement and supports your mission.

Timestamp 2:31:45

How can listeners help the monarch butterfly?

Timestamp 2:34:10

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