MONARCH HABITAT PROJECT
In 1992 the monarch was officially made the Idaho's state insect. Monarch habitat has been declining over the years as herbicide use has increased. Without the habitat the complex life cycle of the monarch is under threat.
Each year adult butterflies fly east from their winter roosts along the coast to lay eggs here in Idaho. An adult monarch can lay up to 500 eggs, but they prefer to lay only one egg per plant. The eggs hatch in 3 to 12 days and the distinctive black, white and yellow banded caterpillar appears.
Monarchs will only lay eggs on milk weed plants. The monarch caterpillar accumulated toxin from the plant tissues which makes them unpalatable to bird and other predators. At one time, milk weed was classified as a noxious weed due to reporting toxic effects on livestock and efforts were made
to eradicate it.The milk weed is no longer on the noxious weed list in Idaho.
The Canyon Soil Conservation District has been working with local residents to establish pollinator habitat and noticed a shortfall of milk weed seed. The conservation district established a team of volunteers to collect, dry, scarify and stratify the seed for local residents that want to establish monarch pollination habitat. The first year the volunteers collected five pounds of milk weed seed and has given the seed to local residents in 3-ounce containers.*
In 2019 volunteers collected 11 pounds of milkweed seed to be distributed at events
* Information source: United States Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Contact your local USDA-NRCS or Conservation District office for additional information