The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper


To counter the sharp decline in the population of the monarch butterfly, the Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative is expanding a pilot program to establish habitat areas for the butterfly by collecting milkweed seed pods.

The seeds will be used for new plantings for the butterfly throughout Ohio in the coming years.

Monarch caterpillars eat milkweed plants and the monarch butterflies use milkweed to lay their eggs.

Locally, the Soil and Water Conservation District offices in Ottawa, Lucas and Wood counties are participating this year in the program as collection points for seed pods.

Marci Lininger, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said the milkweed plant is “essential to the survival of monarch butterflies in Ohio.”

A monarch lands on ODNR naturalist Jake Pavilca at a
butterfly festival at Maumee Bay State Park. The next
butterfly festival will be held September 4th at the
park's Nature Center. (Press file photo by Ken Grosjean)

“Ohio is a priority area for monarchs. Fourth generation monarch butterflies hatch in Ohio in late summer, migrate north to Canada and then come back through Ohio once more in order to fly to Mexico for the winter. This same generation is also responsible for starting the life cycle all over again, laying the following year’s first generation of monarchs,” she said.

The OPHI, a coalition of governmental agencies, universities and private sector entities, is asking residents to harvest milkweed pods growing on their property for the effort and drop them off at conservation district offices from Sept. 1 through Oct. 30.

The initiative offers tips for collecting pods:
• It is best to pick the seed pods from the plant when they are dry and gray or brown in color.

• Pods should be collected into paper bags.

• Collectors are asked to label the bags with the name of the county, date and, if known, which species of milkweed was collected.

• Seeds should be stored in a cool, dry area until delivered to the collection site.

Last year, about 500 gallons were collected in the six or so counties participating in the pilot project.

“The Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative was pleased with that so it decided to make it available statewide. Soil and Water Conservation District offices could determine if they wanted to participate. We’re very excited,” said Jamie Kochensparger, Education Specialist at the Lucas Soil and Water Conservation District.

A collection receptacle for the pods will be placed outside the district office at 130-A, West Dudley St., Maumee.

Mike Libben, program administrator at the Ottawa SWCD, said pods can be dropped off at his office at 240 W. Lake Street, Oak Harbor

In Wood County, the SWCD office is accepting pods at its office at 1616 E. Wooster Street, Bowling Green, according to Nicki Kale, district administrator/education coordinator.

The monarch population has rebounded slightly but still remains well below its long-term average, according to Candy Sarikonda, a conservation specialist with Monarch Watch.

“In 2013, we had the lowest monarch population ever recorded. The monarch population was extremely low during a three-year period, and then last year we saw a bit of a rebound. The monarch population increased to 4.01 hectares, an improvement over previous years but still 30 percent below the long-term average. Sadly, just as monarchs were preparing to leave the winter sanctuaries in Mexico and begin migrating north, a strong winter storm struck the sanctuaries. Some researchers estimate up to 50 percent of the monarchs perished in the storm, having frozen to death. This led to fewer monarchs returning north this spring, and a low number of monarch sightings this summer,” she said.

Last February, Elizabeth Howard, founder of Journey North, wrote that the number of monarchs wintering in Mexico had risen from record lows of the past three years.

“This year’s population contains 200 million monarchs compared to a long-term average of 300 million and a peak of 1 billion,” she wrote.




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