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The Winneshiek County Protectors want the community’s help in restoring the county’s monarch butterfly population.
“We’re concerned about the declining number of monarch butterflies,” said Dick Janson of WCP during a presentation to the Winneshiek County Board of Supervisors Monday.
The WCP, whose mission is “to protect the natural resources and public health of Winneshiek County,” recently started a campaign to distribute Milkweed seeds, the only food source for monarch caterpillars.
The free seed packets can be picked up at the Oneota Coop, Java Johns and the Decorah Hatchery.

Declining population
Janson said there are three reasons for the declining monarch population, including overlogging of the butterfly’s wintering area in Mexico, severe weather and loss of milkweed, due to a decline in CRP (conservation reserve program) acres.
Janson cited recent New York Times articles which said milkweed on farms has declined by 90 percent. Some of the decline is due to the use of pre-emergent herbicides.
“Iowa has lost one quarter of its CRP land, where milkweed grows well. That loss of habitat is compounding the situation,” said Janson.
He also referenced a study at the University of Northern Iowa, which saw a decrease in recent years from 176 monarchs in 2010 to only 11 this year.
Janson said the WCP is enlisting the help of citizens to plant milkweed on roadsides and CRP land.
“We’re going to be engaged in this and we wanted to make you aware and ask for your help individually,” said Janson.
“One seed can make a difference. We need you to plant it,” says the WCP gift pack of seeds, which includes a mixture of the best nectaring plans for all butterflies in addition to milkweed.
For more information, visit LiveMonarch.org or Got-Milkweed.com.