Talking About Monarch Butterflies with Steven Bradbury

Did you miss the Iowa Learning Farms webinar this week? Steven Bradbury spoke about monarch migration, monarch status in Iowa and the nation, and the work that is being done in Iowa and beyond to maintain monarch habitat and to help monarch numbers climb.

You may have heard about monarch decline. Bradbury emphasized that monarch decline is real. His graph shows a shocking decline of monarch butterflies in the last few years that is unprecedented.

Monarch graph

Monarch numbers can vary from year to year, and a big reason for that is because of monarch migration and the cyclical nature of that migration. It takes four to five generations of monarchs to make the journey north in the spring: one generation in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas; two or three generations in the summer in the upper Midwest; and then a final generation that migrates south to overwinter in Mexico. Each of those generations of monarchs can be affected by general stressors, weather events, and lack of habitat along their migration journey.

monarch migration

Iowa fits into the conversation in a big way, as 50% of the migrating monarch generations breed in the Corn Belt. And, of all of the environmental stressors for monarchs, Bradbury ranks habitat loss as the largest reason for monarch population decline. In Iowa, much of our habitat loss is directly connected to our agricultural economy.

Bradbury’s main question for us is
“How do we figure out how to grow crops and monarchs
in the state at the same time?”

Watch the archived webinar to see Steven Bradbury’s energized talk on monarch conservation in Iowa and beyond. There is much work already being done on this issue, but there is still more to do. If you are a farmer, landowner, or even a private citizen with a small amount of yard space, there are ways that you can get involved. There are ongoing projects that are studying monarch habitat as a compliment to other land uses, including within saturated buffers, over bioreactors, in underutilized grass areas, and near swine production sites.

If you want to get involved or have questions on how to help, you can go to the Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium or give them a call at 515-294-9980.

To watch the webinar, check out our archived version here.

Julie Whitson