From: US Geological Survey
Published June 29, 2017 11:51 AM

More Milkweeds Located Throughout the Landscape Can Help Conserve Monarchs

Adding milkweeds and other native flowering plants into midwestern agricultural lands is key to restoring monarch butterflies, with milkweed sowers from all sectors of society 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 igratory 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 young, but because adult monarchs feed on the nectar from a range of flowering plants, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommends planting both milkweeds and nectar plants that are 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.

Read more at US Geological Survey

Image: A monarch butterfly rests on a flower petal. (Credit: Karen Oberhauser, University of Minnesota Image provided by Fred Ormand and Joyce Pearsall.)

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