The Monarch butterfly could soon end up on the Endangered Species List if drastic steps are not taken to ensure its survival. Scientists believe the butterfly’s decline is linked to genetically modified crops and herbicides, which kill milkweed, the Monarch caterpillar’s only source of food. Monarch Flyway and Pella Wildlife Company have launched a partnership to protect and establish the Monarch habitat and promote access to milkweed production.
Pella Wildlife Company is an award-winning, non-profit organization that protects, preserves and promotes wildlife conservation. “We are currently working with the Iowa DOT to reestablish 1,500 common milkweed plants along I-35,” said Ron DeArmond, CEO of Pella. “A current survey revealed only four milkweed plants from Missouri to Minnesota.” They also have S.T.E.M. based school programs for students with about 500 citizen scientist volunteers statewide and are planting up to 10 acres of milkweed for their sustainability project. Pella Wildlife Company contacted Monarch Flyway when they were looking for a supply of common milkweed seeds.
Monarch Flyway is the world’s largest supplier of sustainably harvested milkweed products and raw materials. They are constantly establishing unique opportunities to encourage the growth of the milkweed plant to develop high value products for consumers, while benefiting the Monarch habitat.
Monarch Flyway has been very successful at commercializing milkweed in the United States and Canada. The Ogallala Comfort Company uses milkweed silk fibers combined with down to create hypoallergenic and comfortable sleeping products for specialty stores and exclusive hotels. The Asclepias Seed Company sells seed for land reclamation, highway beautification and butterfly farmers and gardens. Their most recent development, Milkweed Balm, uses the oil of the milkweed seed to relieve pain and restore function when topically applied to the skin. Every part of the milkweed plant can be used in a commercial application, while the plant itself is essential for sustaining the Monarch population.
According to DeArmond, “Pella Wildlife Company will collect milkweed seed pods and sell them to Monarch Flyway. The funds from the collected pods will help Pella Wildlife Company continue with award-winning wildlife conservation. The expertise provided by Monarch Flyway will reduce the amount of trial and error and get Iowa’s milkweed production of seeds to capacity as soon as possible.” Monarch Flyway will then have a source of controlled milkweed production.
Pella Wildlife Company has created the Monarch butterfly Sustainability Program to educate, motivate and inspire the public to get involved with reestablishing Monarch habitats. Pella thinks the future of wildlife management is in the hands of the people. With an on-site program, roadside research and school program, Pella Wildlife hopes to educate people about habitat restoration and backyard green spaces.
At the on-site program, there will be 10 acres of milkweed planted, which will produce hundreds of thousands of Monarch butterflies to be tagged and monitored for the great Monarch butterfly migration to Mexico. Of the 10 acres, five control acres will be accessed only by Pella and its stakeholders for research, while the other five acres will be used to develop citizen scientists who can take home butterfly eggs, caterpillars and milkweed. Participants will register online and report on the number of butterflies produced and released.
The goal of the roadside research program is to establish and monitor research zones along the Iowa roadways. The research will include milkweed sustainability and Monarch butterfly life cycle activity. The school program will include a captive breeding program, habitat enrichment through planting and growing milkweed, conservation and research through tagging Monarch butterflies raised and released and monitoring and reporting results.
The Monarch Flyway and Pella Wildlife Company partnership is sure to make a significant impact on the sustainability of the Monarch butterfly.