More Milkweeds Throughout the Landscape Can Help Monarchs
Adding milkweeds and other native flowering plants into midwestern agricultural lands is key to restoring monarch butterflies, with people sooweing milkweed everywhere they can being critically needed for success.
In a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey, the University of Arizona and partners, scientists developed potential scenarios for incorporating milkweed into the midwestern United States landscape. They found converting marginal cropland to monarch-friendly habitat provides the best opportunity for adding milkweed to help restore the eastern migratory monarch population. However, in addition to agricultural lands, the authors emphasized that planting milkweeds into other kinds of lands, including protected areas and urban and suburban locations, may be necessary.
With quintessential bright orange and black markings punctuated by white dots, monarch butterflies are an iconic species. North American migratory monarch populations east of the Rocky Mountains declined by more than 80 percent over the last two decades, due, in part, to the loss of millions of milkweed stems in the northern U.S.
Milkweed is the only plant that provides breeding habitat and food for monarch caterpillars, but because adult monarchs feed on the nectar from a range of flowering plants, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service recommends both milkweeds and other nectar plants native to specific areas. In addition to breeding habitat loss, factors contributing to monarch declines include adverse weather conditions in recent years, loss of overwintering habitat, disease and exposure to contaminants.
source: ENN June 29, 2017
From: US Geological Survey
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