Monarch butterflies are a sign of a healthy prairie ecosystem.
“I think it’s important to keep as many things around as we can in general,” said Keriann Dubina, an environmental interpreter with the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County. “Monarchs are very important just along with all the other pollinators.”
Monarch Population Declining
But monarch populations continue to decline. In December, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined the monarch butterfly warranted being added to its endangered species list.
“The challenge there is that from the federal perspective, there are other species that are even more threatened and require protection,” said Anamari Dorgan, director of community engagement services at the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County. “So we’re doing everything we can in DuPage County to protect monarch butterflies and encourage the resurgence of a population while we wait for federal support.”
How Organizations Are Fighting Monarch Decline
Those efforts include convincing governing bodies to devote resources to monarch preservation and educating the public on what they can do to help.
Individuals Can Help Too
But according to Dorgan, who also serves as the forest preserves rep for the DuPage Monarch Project, monarch populations are down 26% this year, meaning any effort, even on an individual level, can make a difference.
“The more people we can get planting native plants in their yard the better,” said Dubina.
Homeowners can help by planting native plants in their yard to act as way stations for the butterflies. Forest preserves of both DuPage and Will County are currently running sales for native plants.
“It’s best to have all different types of plants for them,” said Dubina. “Especially nectar plants because they all do need to eat at some point. It’s really good to have plants that are blooming all throughout the season.”
When to Plant
Dubina said the best time to start planting is after the last possible frost of the season, sometime between Mother’s Day and Memorial Day.
“Butterflies are charismatic, so the back of the house stuff we do is kind of boring, it feels administrative, but our goal is to get all the good work everybody else is doing in front of people,” said Dorgan.
Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.
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