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Monarch butterfly population could be on the rise in Iowa

Largest population since 2007 expected to arrive in Iowa by the end of this month, and scientists are hoping the species can thrive with more plants

Posted: May 17, 2019 11:58 PM
Updated: May 18, 2019 12:48 AM

FLOYD COUNTY, Iowa - As it gets warmer, you'll be spending more time outside. And according to researchers at Iowa State University, you may see more monarch butterflies this year.

Scientists have been tracking the largest population of wintering monarchs in Mexico since 2007. And depending on the weather, the butterflies could reach Iowa later this month or early June.

Don Nelson farms near Rockford, and plants native grasses and plants that monarch butterflies favor. He says it's a welcome sight to see after over a decade of decline.

"It's very encouraging. We've had a big decline in monarchs, and some real worries whether they were going to continue to decline and maybe even go extinct."

The Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium is leading an effort to plant up to 830,000 acres of new habitat for the monarchs by 2038, as scientists want to maintain the population, with the group saying large and small patches like field edges, public parks and roadsides are critical for habitat, as is the responsible usage of pesticides. For someone that wants to help with expanding the habitat, Nelson has some ideas on what to plant.

"The butterfly milkweed, which is just as good as the common. It makes a very nice ornamental plant in the yard, and they can be planted and grown, along with a lot of the other prairie plants."

In addition, perennials can also be used for a habitat.

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