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Iowa State researchers evaluate milkweed species to enhance monarch butterfly conservation

By U.S. Department of Agriculture

A research team at Iowa State University — the Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium — is studying how monarch butterflies grow and develop on various species of milkweed in hopes of unlocking the full potential of monarch habitat restoration efforts.

Populations of these beautiful insects have decreased significantly over the past two decades, in part because of the decrease in native plants like milkweed – the sole source of food for monarch caterpillars. Because monarch butterflies are always on the move, they need to have the right plants in bloom at the right time along their migration route. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), agricultural producers and a wide array of other groups are working to create and enhance habitat to help the species rebound.