Milkweed could save monarchs


Laura Vance of BASF talks about the benefits of milkweed at this year's Farm Progress Show in Decatur / CIFN photo.

A program from BASF known as “Living Acres” is aiming to preserve the population of monarch butterflies.

The company urges growers to plant habitat for monarchs to help bring their numbers back up.

“A big part of that is planting milkweed,” explains Laura Vance, biology project leader at BASF. “There are some real benefits from having milkweed because this is the only plant the monarch butterfly can lay its eggs on.”

BASF recommends planting milkweed in marginal areas along fences, ditches or even near a barn. Once the milkweed plants bloom, a number of insects benefit since nectar is produced. “Living Acres” focuses on the monarchs since their numbers have dropped 90 percent in the last 20 years.

“There are over 80 species of milkweed and a lot of people don’t realize how many types of milkweed they already have,” said Vance.

If you are looking to plant seeds, Vance recommends fall planting which she considers ideal. You can visit www.monarchchallenge.com to sign up for a free informational newsletter. The company plans a milkweed plant giveaway in the spring. On the site, you will find information on establishing plots and identifying the different types of milkweed.

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