Near the Lakeview driving range, there is a delicate but sweet scent in the air. You can follow him to harvest flower beds that surround the shared garden where vegetables and herbs are grown.

Hummingbird and goldfinch fly near the flowers. And now everywhere you can find monarch butterflies, drinking nectar, flying from plant to plant, resting on the grass.

Millions of monarchs pass through Chicago in the first weeks of September, heading south towards Michoacan, Mexico.

Now, Lakeview Community Garden in Diversey marks the super monarchs who stop in Chicago as part of their migration itinerary.

“Super monarchs differ from the monarchs of earlier seasons in that they are in s*xual diapause; they don’t breed here, they just feed themselves, ”said Lorraine Kells. Those super monarchs who are in a non-reproductive state are also physically larger.

And now they’re drinking nectar, Kells explained, “they’re feeding to make this 3,000-mile journey down to the Michoacan trees.

Judith Kolar exclaimed, “I have one! I have one!” when she brought the net to Kells and Nancy Juda who are involved in the community garden. They got together last week to tag the butterflies.

After gently removing the female monarch from the net, Kolar held her carefully between his thumb and forefinger while Kells marked the disk cell of one of the rear wings with a small sticky circle.

“The tags give us an indication of the migration status and number of migrations, which is very important,” said Kells.

Kolar then placed the butterfly in her palm and let it fly away.

“I love it,” she said with a smile.

Then she sat down to write down the butterfly information for Monarch watchthat tracks the migration of the monarch butterfly with the help of volunteers. Kolar also signed a handwritten card that Kells handed her which read “I have received (blank) fabulous monarch tags” and which asked for a series of tags.

“I have to make sure my gardeners take responsibility for it,” said Kells, who has been a gardener since the age of 4 and grew up “nurtured by the taste of something fresh.” She has worked with native plants in Chicago and California for approximately three decades.

“The important thing to keep in mind is that even if these tags are not recovered, the number of tags that flew out with the butterflies is recorded. This data is recorded, ”added Kells.

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A group of women has labeled 10 butterflies so far as the process requires patience and care. They had a total of 25 tags for work.

“But seeing that everyone is so eager to do it – it’s not difficult – they do it so willingly and just enjoy it so much that we want to order more tags next year and have a wider community reach,” said Kells.

The magic garden of the community consists of several beds, not all of which are put together. There is a pollinator patch that is expected to attract mainly bees and wasps – but which also attracts black scribble caterpillars.

There is also a monarchical station with at least three types of milkweed, and a peripheral garden where vegetables, fruits and herbs are grown alongside various flowers.

But it all started with two elevated beds belonging to the Chicago Park District, which had only a few trees and cigarette butts, Kells said. She added that the garden had been gaining momentum for about six years.

And she spent the last few weeks encouraging others to get involved. The motto of the city of Chicago, she noted, is “the city in the garden” – city ​​in Horto in Latin.

Almost anyone with access to a registered garden can provide a place for nectar for migrating monarch butterflies or a monarch station.

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“Any neighborhood with a garden, backyard, school group, church garden, school garden can do this kind of work as long as it has the five essential ingredients for butterflies,” she said.

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Finding a space of at least 100 square feet, providing sun exposure for at least six hours a day, and planting dairy and flowers close together for shelter are the first three criteria.

Additionally, planting at least 10 dairy plants of two or more species – Kells recommends native species – and plants that provide nectar is key to attracting monarchs.

As climate change and monarch habitats decrease, experts expect their migration patterns to change as well. That is why it is so important at this time to create habitats, support the protection of monarchs, and tag to track any changes.

The second monarch butterfly, which the women managed to capture on Wednesday, held the net tightly, not wanting to let go. The group laughed and commented on the little creature’s strength.

“We are delighted. We are very excited. It’s so wonderful to see joy, the face of an adult who has just discovered something and experienced something that she has never felt before in her life, “Kells later said,” and she just touches one of these living creatures, marks them and knows that this tag will be run with the butterfly, all the way to Michoacan.

adperez@chicagotribune.com

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