Plight of the Pollinator

By DuPage Monarch Project

Summer isn’t the same without them.

Butterflies, bees, and beetles add the colors and sounds we enjoy in the summer. As the number of monarchs migrating north has dwindled, conversations have switched from “How many monarchs did you see this year?” to “Have you seen any?”

Honeybees, those easily overlooked crop pollinators, are experiencing a similar decline as whole colonies collapse.

A main culprit of the eastern monarch’s decrease is the loss of milkweed plants in their Midwestern breeding territory. The monarch caterpillar’s sole source of food is milkweed; no milkweed means no monarchs. The Monarch Conservation Science Partnership estimates that between 1.25 and 1.5 billion stems of milkweed have been lost as a result of changing land use patterns and increased application of agricultural pesticides. Pesticides are also implicated in the decline of honeybees.

Awareness of the monarch’s situation has sparked numerous conservation efforts, from trilateral national agreements at the federal level to citizen scientists recording monarch activity in their backyards. In 2015 The DuPage Monarch Project was formed as a county-wide effort to inventory existing local conservation efforts and increase the monarch friendliness of DuPage communities. DMP is a partnership between the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, River Prairie Group of the Sierra Club, The Conservation Foundation, and Wild Ones Greater DuPage Chapter.

DMP’s goals are promoting monarch protection and conservation through educational outreach, increasing the availability of native milkweed plants and seeds to gardeners and landscapers, and creating monarch-friendly communities. A monarch-friendly community is one where the mayor has signed a resolution of commitment to improving conditions for monarchs by taking actions such as planting milkweed, reducing pesticide usage, and educating residents about what they can do to help pollinators.

“It isn’t often an environmental crisis can be solved by planting flowers,” said Lonnie Morris of DuPage Monarch Project, “but planting milkweed puts monarchs on the road to recovery.”

DuPage Monarch Project, along with the River Prairie Group and Glen Ellyn Environmental Commission, is hosting a free program on the simple, easy actions that will help monarchs and pollinators recover. Join Chicago Zoological Society and Brookfield Zoo’s André Copeland for the “The Plight of the Pollinator” program on Tuesday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. at the Glen Ellyn Public Library. Registration is not required.
What is planted in your garden and how you tend the lawn can help restore the sights and sounds of summer.

For more information about the DuPage Monarch Project and the “Plight of the Pollinator” program, contact Connie Schmidt at
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