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Indiana Monarch and Pollinator Conservation

June 22, 2021
Monarch Butterfly Photo

Most of us have probably heard or seen a lot about pollinators in the media recently. The reason why is that pollinators are really, really important. We simply can’t live without them. Researchers estimate that one out of every three bites of food we eat is made possible by pollinators. More than 100 food crops in the U.S. depend on pollinators, including almost all fruit and grain crops.

There are many different types of pollinators including native bees, butterflies and moths, beetles, flies, wasps, and of course hummingbirds. But perhaps one of the more interesting pollinators is the Monarch. Millions of Monarchs congregate in a relative small area in Mexico each winter. In March they start their journey north which has occurred over several generations. Unfortunately, the number of Monarchs counted in overwintering colonies has declined over the past 25 years.

In response, many states including Indiana have developed a state Monarch Conservation Plan. With input from many stakeholders over several years, the Indiana Monarch Conservation Plan was released in December 2020. One goal of the plan was to create an online resource that would act as a clearinghouse for Indiana monarch and pollinator conservation data, research, best management practices (BMPs), and events. I invite you to visit the Indiana Monarch and Pollinator Conservation Hub at https://indianawildlife.org/monarchs/.

You might be asking yourself, ‘Why is a wildlife specialist writing about pollinators?’ It turns out that quality habitat for wildlife is often quality habitat for pollinators. The diversity of wildflowers and structure that native grasslands, trees and shrubs benefit them all. Trees such as eastern redbud and Ohio buckeye provide early nectar sources. Native grasslands that have a diverse mixture of wildflowers provide food, bare ground, and structure desirable for a wide variety of pollinators.

Resources:
Protecting Pollinators: Why Should We Care About Pollinators?, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Ask The Expert: What's Buzzing or Not Buzzing About Pollinators , Purdue Extension - Forestry & Natural Resources (FNR) YouTube Channel
Purdue Pollinator Protection publication series, Purdue Extension Entomology
Indiana Monarch & Pollinator Conservation Hub, Indiana Wildlife Federation
Monarch Watch, University of Kansas
100 Plants to Feed the Monarch/Other Resources Available, Xerxes Society for Invertebrate Conservation

Brian MacGowan, Wildlife Extension Specialist & Extension Coordinator
Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

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