New IDOT Mowing Pattern Tries to Help Monarch Butterflies

May 18, 2017

The future of Illinois' official state insect is in doubt.

The Monarch butterfly has seen its population decline by 80 percent over the past ten years, putting it at risk of becoming endangered.

The Illinois Department of Transportation is trying to help by only mowing within 15 feet of right of ways along state highways. Officials hope this will promote the growth of the plant species milkweed.

Kenny Fisher is a Carbondale beekeeper, who also advocates for protecting other pollinators, such as Monarchs. He says IDOT's plan is a welcomed change.
 
"For a long time they've mowed too much and sprayed too much along the roads and it's killed a lot of the butterfly weed and milkweed out. It's great that they're doing that."

Fisher  says protecting milkweed is critical because it's a food source for the Monarchs, among other things.
 
"It's important for their life cycle. They lay their eggs on it and their larvae feed on it. It's very important. In fact, it's essential for Monarchs."

Fisher says he has seen a few Monarch butterflies in his backyard. But, he says more will start appearing in about three to four weeks.