Monarchs to Visit Convention Center

Aug 6, 2012

The David L. Lawrence Convention Center is used to attracting a wide variety of visitors, but the facility is now preparing to welcome a special type of guest: Monarch butterflies.

Convention Center general manager Mark Leahy said the newly certified "Monarch waystation" on the roof of the building is equipped with all the plants necessary to feed the butterflies as they make their way south to Mexico or California.

A single generation of Monarchs does not live long enough to make the entire trip; rather, Leahy said it takes four complete life cycles to complete the migration. Therefore, a certified Monarch waystation must include food for every stage of a butterfly's life.

"The caterpillar will only and can only eat milkweed," said Leahy. "They eat nothing else, so having a good stock of that is very important."

After the larvae emerge from their cocoons, the butterflies eat only nectar. Leahy said the 100 square foot waystation includes plenty of flowering plants.

"We have Black-Eyed Susans, there's cornflower, there's different types of onion that they will eat the nectar from," said Leahy. "So, we chose a few that we know will grow quickly, and are hardy."

Since Pittsburgh is near the fortieth degree of latitude, Leahy said the Monarch migration will arrive in this area from early to mid-September.

The Monarch waystation complements a green roof that was installed on the LEED-Platinum Convention Center in May. Leahy said he thinks more butterflies will be attracted by the flowers there and at the new riverfront landing site along the south bank of the Allegheny River.