Several groups across the state are working together to address the declining population of monarch butterflies.
Iowa State University entomology professor Sue Blodgett says there are several reasons why the orange and black winged insect has become a less common site, including deforestation in Mexico where monarchs spend the winter.
“And in the breeding area, which is the Upper Midwest, changes in land use practices and pest management…there are a lot of reasons, but the monarch population has definitely been declining in recent years,” Blodgett says.
Monarch caterpillars depend on milkweed plants, so Blodgett is investigating the best way to place more of those plants around Iowa.
“We have 10,000 milkweed plants in our greenhouse and we ordered some plants from a place that provides the correct ecotypes for Iowa, so it’s very exciting and we’ve already started on this,” Blodgett says.
ISU’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is part of a new Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium, which includes the state’s agriculture and natural resources departments as well as several commodity and conservation groups.