It has been 40 years since some Decatur school children successfully lobbied for the monarch butterfly to be declared Illinois’ official state insect. Now, though, the world’s bug experts are concerned about diminishing numbers of the monarch, which makes a four-generation round trip between the Midwest and Mexico.
The monarch lays its eggs upon milkweed, a plant in diminishing supply. This is because of “farming practices, and the fact that our population grows, we spread out, we develop more land, we use more land for a variety of things, and there is less open space left unused where plants like milkweed can grow,” says Chris Young, a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
“It grows on roadsides, it grows on empty fields, it grows just about any place which we leave un-kept and un-mowed,” says Young, encouraging homeowners and schools to use such native plants in their gardens.