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Monarch Butterfly 


Most Traveled Insect in the World

     The monarch butterfly is a beautiful insect famous for its contrasting orange and black coloration - a signal used to warn predators of its toxic nature. While it takes only a single butterfly to travel all the way to Mexico from Ohio, it takes several generations to come back. By the time you see a monarch in your backyard, it is likely the great, great, great, great, great, great granddaughter of the butterfly that left Ohio in the Fall. 

     Due to the rapid expansion of agriculture throughout the midwest, this butterfly has seen a drastic decrease in their population over the last few decades as herbicides have been more frequently used across the country. The butterfly specializes on a single plant called milkweed, but farmers see this plant as a threat to their crops, and therefore eliminate it. It is estimated that the species has seen more than a 90% decrease in population since the 1980’s according to the Xerces Society.

Recovering the Monarch


     On the flight to recovery, the monarch butterfly may have an unlikely ally - homeowners! One great way to help the monarch butterfly recover is to plant milkweed and other native flowers in your backyard. Adult monarchs will feed off of other species of flowers as well, not just milkweed. Many homeowners tend to select plant species that are imported from other countries and these plants are not generally useful to native species as they have not evolved alongside one another. If you are looking for a fun activity to do during the quarantine, look no further than your own backyard! To start, check out Plant Finder, a great way to begin planning what species and plants you can put in your native backyard garden.

     Planting native plants such as milkweed in your backyard not only helps the monarch, but they also help pollinators, amphibians, birds, reptiles and mammals - all of which make up a healthy ecosystem. Going outside and planting native plants in your backyard can be a fun quarantine activity that will certainly reward you later on when your garden is bursting with color and life. 


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