Tampa Bay Butterfly Foundation president aims to educate gardeners on the importance of monarchs

Anita Camacho is doing amazing things to bring attention and protection to butterflies. Her mission to help these beautiful creatures is what's right with Tampa Bay.

Camacho has studied monarch butterflies for decades and has worked to protect them for years. 

"They're important pollinators," said Camacho. "They're a very important indicator of our ecosystem and bio-diversity." 

She is also president of the non-profit Tampa Bay Butterfly Foundation and owns the Little Red Wagon Native Nursery in South Tampa.  

Camacho is trying to educate the community about the importance of the monarch butterfly. 

A Monarch Butterfly lifts off from a plant

A monarch Butterfly lifts off from a plant on the Bobwhite Trail at the Greenbury Point Conservation Area in Annapolis, Maryland (Photo by Eric Lee for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

"90% of our flowering plants are pollinated by pollinators and need pollinator services. So it's a very significant problem. Without them, our food source will pretty much not exist unless it's manufactured food," she said. 

She started the foundation in 2017 in hopes of getting rid of pesticide, herbicide, fungicide use on plants.

"Those are all toxic chemicals that are very bad for human health as well as, you know, with our kids, our animals, wildlife animals. And it's killing our pollinators as well, which is a pretty important part of the food chain," she said. 

Monarch butterfly caterpillars rest on milkweed leaves in Chicago. (John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

A self-described butterfly-whisperer, Camacho says it's important for everyone to know the role monarchs play.  

"I do a lot of classes. We do kids' camps. We do a lot of outreach with schools, a lot of adult groups, whether it's garden clubs, other business groups," Camacho explained. 

She hopes the community will take up her mission to create a safe haven for these fluttering friends.

For more information, visit https://tampabaybutterflyfoundation.org/.