June 29, 2016

Milk Source Expands Effort to Protect Monarch Butterfly Population, Migration

Milk Source is expanding its efforts to aid in the protection of the magnificent Monarch Butterfly population by designating and preserving as many as 50 areas throughout Wisconsin and Michigan for the butterflies to lay eggs and mature without being disturbed.

Monarchs lay their eggs on a plant known as Milkweed (which also serves as food for their young); however, milkweed is becoming increasingly difficult to find as the plants are being cut down to make room for new developments, roadways and subdivisions.

Milk Source has found many of the milkweed plants growing alongside our fields; we have designated specific protection zones that will allow them to continue growing without being disturbed.  These locations are marked with Monarch lifecycle signs and are designated not to be cut, tilled or mowed.

“Butterflies, like bees, pollinate flowers to help keep our soil strong and our land looking good.  They’re also a food source to other birds and insects; it’s all about a healthy ecosystem,” said Milk Source Partner Jim Ostrom.

The eastern North American monarch population has declined dramatically — more than 90 percent since the 1980s — primarily because of loss of habitat for breeding, migration and overwintering, noted a recent report by the Sand County Foundation.

By preserving the Milkweed plants, new seeds from the mother plant will fertilize in the surrounding soil allowing more plants to grow for the Monarchs to lay eggs and feed on, letting the butterflies successfully continue their migration each year.

The Monarch Butterfly travels more than 3,000 miles every year across the U.S., traveling from as far as Canada to Mexico City. The life span of a Monarch is typically no more than five weeks.  The butterflies lay eggs along their trip so their offspring can make the journey for them.  About three to five generations of Monarchs will be born throughout the spring and summer.

“The fate of the monarch butterfly hangs in the balance and its future is dependent on all of us,” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe recently reported. “We can either choose to let its decline continue, or we can do something about it.”