Monarch conservation coalition launches huge milkweed planting initiative

Although monarch butterfly populations showed signs of recovery in recent years, these orange beauties are still highly threatened. The species’ numbers have fallen 99 percent since the 1980s, but a new collaboration between conservation groups, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the environmentalist organization River Partners aims to revitalize their numbers with a massive milkweed planting initiative. 

Together, the groups have begun planting 30,000 milkweed plants, about 600 acres, across California. Monarchs rely on this plant for nutrition and breeding. They also use the plants as resting zones along their migratory path. Unfortunately, pesticide use and farming have greatly reduced milkweed prevalence in the state, thus harming butterfly populations. 

The state of California has provided $1 million in funding for the milkweed planting effort and varieties will include showy milkweed, narrow-leaf milkweed, and desert milkweed. Tropical milkweed, often planted by well-intentioned gardeners, does not actually support monarch populations as it confuses their migratory patterns. Monarchs aren’t the only species that will benefit from this project. Nearly 500 types of insects feed on some part of the milkweed plant for survival.

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