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Learn how to plant milkweed to save Treasure Valley monarch butterflies

This is just one of four flower mixes available this year from the Treasure Valley Pollinator Project. Each mix contains milkweed to help Monarch caterpillars thrive.
Ada Soil & Water Conservation District
This is just one of four flower mixes available this year from the Treasure Valley Pollinator Project. Each mix contains milkweed to help Monarch caterpillars thrive.

Last year, we followed the Treasure Valley Pollinator Project where anyone could sign up to help pollinators like bees and butterflies by planting these flowers to provide critical food and habitat.

In its first year, people planted more than 64,000 flowering plants. As more and more open space is gobbled up by growth, flowers and plants disappear from the landscape. That means less food for pollinators.

This year, the project’s focus is monarch butterflies. In 2020, less than 2,000 Monarchs were counted in the West by the Xerces Society, an alarming drop in the number of the iconic insects. Fortunately last year, that number jumped up to nearly 250,000. But western monarchs are still in trouble, having lost more than 95 percent of their population since the 1980s when hundreds of millions of the orange and black butterflies migrated across the West.

Why have their numbers dropped so much? Milkweed. Adult butterflies have struggled with a loss of habitat, pesticides, interruptions to their migration cycle, and finding nectar for food. But baby butterflies — caterpillars — only eat milkweed. As milkweed plants disappear, so does the bread and butter of monarch caterpillars.

Jessica Harrold, Program Coordinator of the Ada Soil & Water Conservation District joins Idaho Matters to talk about this year’s Project and how it will help monarch butterflies.

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