INDIANAPOLIS – Monarch butterflies have recently been added to the endangered species list. This has been a discussion for quite a while in the entomologist community.

Monarch butterfly populations have been declining over the past three decades, which is largely why they have been added to the list. They are still present in Indiana and across the Midwest, but their numbers have dropped.

Why is the monarch butterfly population declining?

According to Ian Kaplan, a professor of entomology at Purdue University, there are severe reasons that have been proposed as to why the monarch butterfly population is declining. The leading reason is associated with what they eat. Monarch butterflies only eat milkweed plants. There is less milkweed in the environment than there was 20-30 years ago.

Courtesy: John Obermeyer

When can you see monarch butterflies in Indiana?

Monarch butterflies migrate during the winter to an area of Mexico and fly back north during the summer. Their breeding grounds are in the Midwest. Typically, monarch butterflies will make their way as early as June and stick around into August in Indiana.

What can you do to help increase the population?

Kaplan says the easiest way to help feed the butterflies is by planting milkweed in your yards and gardens. Since the biggest factor in the declining population is the lack of food, planting their food source would be the best way to help them. You can find milkweed at your local garden stores.

Kaplan also says to not treat the plants with pesticides because that would harm the butterfly.

Courtesy: John Obermeyer

For more information on monarch butterflies and pollinator protection, head over to Purdue’s website found here.