August will be a pollinator-packed month at the Forest Preserve District.
Pollinators are the creatures that help our plants bear seeds and fruit. Monarch butterflies, hummingbirds, bees and a host of other insects, birds and animals are all important pollinators. Three-fourths of the world's flowering plants and about 35 percent of the world's food crops depend on pollinators to reproduce.
Pollinators searching for food – most often nectar – pick up pollen, or powdery seed dust, on their feet, wings and bodies before they flit from flower to flower or plant to plant distributing the material. If you are intrigued by pollinators and want to learn more about the vital role they play in the ecosystem and how you can assist them, here is a list of the Forest Preserve's many pollinator programs and events:
Monarch's First Flight: noon, now through Sunday, September 29, Plum Creek Nature Center, Crete Township. The nature center is rearing monarch caterpillars, and visitors are welcome to help release the butterflies after they emerge from their chrysalises. An interpretive naturalist will be on hand to answer all of your butterfly questions. Free; all ages. Registration is not required, but call before visiting; 708-946-2216.
Monarch Way Stations: Noon-2 p.m. at various milkweed hot spots each Sunday in August. Learn about butterflies, milkweed and pollinators and search for monarch eggs and caterpillars in action. Free milkweed seed packets will be available. Guided pollinator hikes will be held at 12:30 p.m., 1 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. Here are the dates and locations: August 4, Hickory Creek Barrens Nature Preserve, New Lenox; August 11, Hickory Creek Preserve – LaPorte Road Access, Mokena; August 18, McKinley Woods – Kerry Sheridan Grove, Channahon; and August 25, Isle a la Cache Museum, Romeoville. Free; all ages.
Discovery Isle: Monarchs!: 1-3 p.m. Wednesday, August 14, Isle a la Cache Museum. Learn about the 3,000-mile journey monarchs take during their migration. Make a paper monarch and see how far it glides. This is a drop-in program; come any time between 1-3 p.m. Free; all ages.
Hummingbird Fest & Nature Celebration: 1-5 p.m. Saturday, August 17, Plum Creek Nature Center. Enjoy a celebration that puts the spotlight on hummingbirds and other pollinators. The fest will feature presentations, bird viewing, local artisans, hummingbird banding, slacklining, tree climbing, bike riding and a live monarch exhibit. Free; all ages.
Planting for Pollinators: 6:30-8 p.m. Thursday, August 22, Four Rivers Environmental Education Center. Get all the information you need to plant a pollinator garden next year. Find out the different plant characteristics that attract pollinators. Free; ages 10 and older. Register by Tuesday, Aug. 20.
Breakfast with the Hummingbirds: 10 a.m.-noon, Saturday, August 24, Plum Creek Nature Center. Experience hummingbirds as they zip back and forth sipping from feeders and flowers in the nature center's bird and butterfly garden. Find out how you can attract hummingbirds to your yard. Coffee and pastries will be provided. Free; all ages.
Mission: Monarchs: 8:30-9:30 a.m. Saturday, August 31, Isle a la Cache Museum. Join the Monarch Watch Tagging Program, a large-scale citizen scientist effort. Learn techniques to safely net and tag monarchs and how to submit your tagging data. Return to Isle a la Cache during peak monarch migration season on September 14 and September 21 to tag migrating monarchs. A naturalist will be on hand those two days to facilitate drop-in tagging from 8:30-11:30 a.m. Free; ages 10 and older. Register by Thursday, August 22.
The Forest Preserve also has set up kiosks that contain pollinator and monarch brochures and free milkweed seed packets at Four Rivers Environmental Education Center (open during programs), Isle a la Cache Museum, Plum Creek Nature Center and Sugar Creek Administration Center.
Stay up-to-date on the happenings in Will County's forest preserves by subscribing to The Citizen, our weekly digital newsletter that provides subscribers with updates on Forest Preserve news, upcoming events, and other fun and useful information for the whole family. If you're only interested in programs, subscribe to The Weekly Five, which outlines the five must-do programs each week. Signing up for either newsletter is easy and free of charge.