|Migratory patterns of monarch butterflies |
(Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium map)
Monarch numbers fell 90 percent in recent years after reaching 1 billion in 1996. Insecticides and illegal logging in designated habitats are largely blamed for destroying milkweed plants, which are the main source of food for the butterflies. Last year the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service started a conservation fund for the butterfly and also announced the first round of grants totaling $3.3 million from the fund.
"In 2014, environmental groups petitioned the Fish and Wildlife Service to protect monarch butterflies under the Endangered Species Act," Eller writes. "The service has until June 2019 to determine whether to add Monarch butterflies. The petitioners say farming in the Midwest is among the reasons for monarch's decline. The petition points to the 'nearly ubiquitous adoption' of glyphosate-resistant corn and soybeans for causing 'a precipitous decline of common milkweed, and thus of monarchs, which lay their eggs only on milkweeds.'"
The Iowa consortium includes agri-businesses Monsanto, Bayer, DuPont-Pioneer and Syngenta, Eller writes. The Iowa Office of Farm Service Agency said "about 623,000 acres in Iowa are planted to pollinator habitat through four federal conservation programs. Altogether, Iowa farmers and landowners received $293 million last year to create nearly 1.9 million acres of pollinator habitat. Farmers kicked in $55.3 million."