Inside Region 3
Midwest Region
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Monarch butterfly on purple coneflower. Photo by Rick Hansen/USFWS.
Monarch butterfly on purple coneflower. Photo by Rick Hansen/USFWS.

Monarch Conservation in the Midwest: An Update On Our Efforts

The monarch butterfly may be the most well-known butterfly in the world, and it needs your help.

Monarchs depend upon a wide range of habitats in Canada, the United States and Mexico, and conservation of the migratory phenomenon requires trilateral cooperation. Our protected lands provide vital breeding and migrating habitat, but we can do more.

Director Dan Ashe was recently appointed by Secretary Sally Jewell to chair a high level working group of federal agencies tasked with developing and implementing systematic conservation actions. These actions are aimed at addressing the threats of habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation. The Midwest Region is in a key position to help.

Jim Leach and Lori Nordstrom will be leading a regional team that will get a jump start on developing a cross-programmatic strategy to this end. While the Midwest Region already provides excellent habitat and science-based educational opportunities, we are looking for even more and new partners to continue our efforts.

In addition to this team, you can help out individually. One of the known habitat needs for this species is its dependence on milkweed as a host plant for its larvae. Here in the Midwest Region, on our national wildlife refuges, wetland management districts and hatcheries we have milkweed plants growing right now. Their seed pods will ripen over the next month and we have an opportunity to harvest some of this milkweed in the weeks ahead. 

Here’s how you can help:

  1. Do some scouting for milkweed plants - there are several species here in the Midwest
  2. Eliminate patches of milkweed from mowing or prescribed fire units, if practical, until the seed has been collected
  3. Think about areas at your station where these seeds could be sown (bare soil and very light soil disturbance work best)

Planning for 2015 and beyond, is ongoing, but we can get to work immediately with staff, volunteers, school groups and others to harvest milkweed pods for processing and sowing before the first winter snow. Stay tuned for more on practical ways to collect, process, store and sow milkweed seeds.

In the meantime, you can learn more about the interagency MonarchJoint Venture.

The monarch caterpillars you see now are part of the fourth generation that migrates to Mexico. Peak migration times for the region are late August to early October. Photo by Courtney Celley/USFWS.
The monarch caterpillars you see now are part of the fourth generation that migrates to Mexico. Peak migration times for the region are late August to early October. Photo by Courtney Celley/USFWS.

 

Last updated: September 5, 2014