Community volunteers come together to do their part in planting flowers that the monarchs can live off of and spread pollen. Photo by Gina Anderson | Floyd County Purdue Extension educator
Community volunteers come together to do their part in planting flowers that the monarchs can live off of and spread pollen. Photo by Gina Anderson | Floyd County Purdue Extension educator
NEW ALBANY — With monarch butterflies endangered, the Louisville Zoo has started a project to help increase the population.

Monarchs and Milkweed Pollinator Habitat Project is the name of the program. Zoo representatives go to towns, cities and businesses and offer to plant a garden habitat for the butterflies and other pollinators. The project is aimed toward placing pollinator gardens around Louisville and Southern Indiana.

On Tuesday one of these gardens was planted at Purdue Polytechnic New Albany.

“Every spring and fall we find community partners that want to host a habitat,” said Matthew Lahm, Assistant Curator of Conservation Education. “They host it for three years, it’s basically a demonstration site habitat.”

The migrating monarch butterfly was added in July to the “red list” of threatened species and categorized as “endangered” for the first time by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. That’s two steps from "extinct in the wild."

Scientists blamed the monarchs’ plummeting numbers on habitat loss, climate change, and pesticide and herbicide use.

What can home gardeners do to support the monarch? If everyone reading this planted one milkweed plant, the benefit would be palpable.

The plants in these gardens are showy goldenrod, downy wood mint, prairie clover, obedient plant, milkweed, purple coneflower, sunflower and rattlesnake master. All of these plants help monarch butterflies and other pollinators live and spread pollen.

Purdue chose to place its garden at one of the parking islands in the parking lot.

“The idea is that we picked an area that would be highly visible for people to see and learn about,” said Gina Anderson, Purdue University Extension educator.

More of these gardens will be planted in Jeffersonville and at the Northeast Regional Library in Louisville.

“Hopefully it inspires people to get involved with monarch conservation,” Lahm said. “These aren’t supposed to be gigantic plantings, but it’s something like, I could build this at home. Hopefully it inspires people to build one.”

This story has been supplemented with information from The Associated Press.
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