Monarch butteryfly photo by Karl Schilling.

The Iowa Learning Farms is hosting a monarch butterfly and wetland field day today in central Iowa’s Story County. Event coordinator Liz Juchems says it’s an ideal location for the two-hour course.

“It’s a Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program wetland, or CREP for short, so there’s a constructed wetland just southeast of Story City,” Juchems says.

“We’ve got a great agenda of speakers who are going to share about that wetland but also about monarch butterflies.” Some experts estimate the national population of monarch butterflies has fallen nearly 80-percent in the last 20 years, but Juchems says the important insects are beginning to make a comeback in Iowa.

“They’re starting to recover a little bit but we still have quite a bit of ways to go,” she says. “We’re learning different ways we can establish monarch habitat, whether it’s in roadside ditches or in our own backyards.” Monarchs continue to face challenges including the loss of milkweed and nectar plant habitat in spring and summer breeding ranges. Juchems said the program will feature three main speakers, including the CREP coordinator and a wildlife specialist from the ISU Extension.

“We have Seth Applegate who’s going to talk about the efforts of the ISU Monarch Work Group,” she says. “They’ve been doing some on-farm research projects and hopefully, he’ll have great information to share with everyone.”

The program runs from 10:30 A.M. until 12:30 P.M. at the wetland site, nine miles southeast of Story City. The field day is free. Reservations are required.

(By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)