Group Hopes Public Will Help Habitat For Monarch Butterflies

Jun 17, 2019

Credit Paul Skawinski

A once-common, and now threatened, sign of summer has returned, and they could use your help.

Monarch butterflies have arrived in Wisconsin after a 1,000-mile journey from the southern U.S. and are looking for milkweed to lay their eggs on. A coalition dedicated to conserving the Monarchs is asking residents to provide more habitat for monarchs this summer and in coming years.

Paul Skawinski of Stevens Point co-chairs a Wisconsin Monarch committee. He says after the long journey north, the Monarchs are looking for milkweed to feed and lay their eggs.

Skawinski says the decline in the population is alarming..

"...Over the last 20 years, the population has gone from about 18 hectares worth of over-wintering butterflies down to about two- and -a -half. The Monarch over-wintering population in Mexico is measured in the size of the area the Monarchs inhabit. So a hectare is a bout 2.5 acres of space..."

The decline is thought to be from habitat loss, partially caused by the expansion of agricultural land eliminating needed habitat. Skawinski says everyone can help out to restore populations...

"The goal for Wisconsin is 120 million new stems of milkweed over the next 20 years. A stem of milkweed is not necessarily one individual plant. One plant can produce many stems. That can be accomplished by one person planting a prairie of many acres if they want, or anybody with just a tiny piece of land can plant a few milkweed and flowers that make a huge difference for the Monarchs..."

The Wisconsin Monarch Collaborative recently released their 20-year road map which contains voluntary goals that individuals, agencies and partners can use to help support monarch populations in Wisconsin. We have a link to the collaborative's study here.