Monarch butterflies are found throughout the United States, though a majority of the population migrates up to 3,000 miles to Mexico for the winter months. Over the past 20 years, the North American monarch population has plunged from 1 billion to less than 60 million, due mostly to loss of critical habitat. These beautiful, black-and-orange insects depend not only on nectar-producing plants throughout their range, but also milkweed — the only food source for monarch caterpillars.
In 2015, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) established the Monarch Butterfly Conservation Fund to protect, conserve and increase habitat for these iconic insects and other pollinators. Created with an initial $1.2 million commitment from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the fund will pool additional funding from other private and public donors and matching resources from grantees.
Since 2015, 23 projects have been supported through the Monarch Butterfly Conservation Fund, including Bridging The Gap’s!
In 2016, BTG received a grant to plant 175 Monarch Butterfly gardens around the metropolitan region in 2016 and 2017. Homeowners, businesses, municipalities, and schools applied for the garden during our application phase, in early 2016. We’ve accepted 195 applicants, 20 gardens over our goal, thanks to additional financial support from our partners.
Each free garden provided by BTG is 15 square feet or 3 x 5 ft.
Why is it important to plant a native, butterfly garden in your yard? Over the last decade monarch numbers have spiraled downward due to the loss of habitat. The very existence of the monarch migration may be threatened. Studies of the annual cycle of the monarch population indicate that the most important region supporting this species is a corridor of milkweed and nectar resources that ranges from Texas to Minnesota (KS and MO are squarely within this path). This passageway has been referred to as the I-35 corridor as this interstate spans most of the region. You can help by planting milkweed, the sole food source for the monarch caterpillar. Our gardens include several species of milkweed along with other important native plants.