The monarch butterfly may soon find more of its food in Iowa.
That’s one goal of the newly formed Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium. Iowa State University Entomologist Sue Blodgett says deforestation has diminished the monarch’s over-wintering habitat in Mexico.
“In the breeding area, which Iowa is in the middle of, changes in crop production, changes in pest management, increased urbanization, [and] other changes in land use have all contributed to the decline of the monarch butterfly."
She says an important first step for the new consortium is increasing the food supply for both caterpillars and adult butterflies.
“Right now we’re developing a fairly simple, and we’re hoping a fairly economical, seed mix that we can use to study this,” she says. “If it works as well as we hope it will, [it will be] something that we can recommend to people to try.”
She says even small patches of the plants, which would include milkweed for the caterpillars and flowering plants for adult butterflies, across Iowa in urban, suburban and rural areas, could make a difference.
The Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium’s initial partners, according to a press release from Iowa State, are: Iowa State University, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Turkey Federation, Practical Farmers of Iowa, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, Iowa Nature Conservancy, DuPont Pioneer, Monsanto and Soil and Water Conservation Society.
Blodgett made her comments today on Iowa Public Radio’s River to River.