The Midwestern states, also known as the Corn Belt to the U.S., are a prime breeding ground for monarch butterflies during their migration to Mexico. The milkweed plant that grows in this area serves as the only source of food for the caterpillar during the monarch life cycle. Without milkweed, the monarchs can not reproduce and continue their migration. Due to the destruction of prairies and the use of herbicides, the habitat is diminishing.
A key part of increasing the monarch population is getting more milkweed plants in the landscape. In order to stabilize the population, it is likely that more than a billion new plants will be required. Conservationists are working on cost-effective ways to plant more milkweed and nectar plants in these areas. In addition to new planting, protecting and restoring the current wildflower-rich grasslands for monarchs and other pollinators is important, too.
One way you can help is to plant milkweeds native to your area in gardens, parks, and along the sides of the road. Since milkweed can often look messy, the public's perception of these plants needs to change. Some people mow or spray herbicides to control the milkweed plant, not realizing they are so vital to the monarch butterfly. Allowing them to grow naturally will positively impact monarchs and other pollinators.
By creating your garden and spreading the word, you can help make a difference for the monarch butterfly. If everyone does a small part, we will be able to enjoy these beautiful creatures for years to come.