Local Wildlife Experts Work to Bring Back Butterflies
Butterflies are an important part of the ecosystem. With their recent decline in population, several local wildlife experts are doing their part to help get the population back on track.
“Only about 3 percent of the monarch population survives in nature,” says Rebecca Mauriala-Kuehn, owner of Butterfly Memories. “So if we can get the kids out there saving caterpillars and raising butterflies, we are going to be a lot better off.”
Rebecca started her business 11 years ago to educate people about the insects. Her business allows people to purchase a caterpillar at watch it develop in to a butterfly.
“What I am hoping they are doing is learning,” added Mauriala-Kueh. “I also hope they are learning more about milkweed. So many people can’t even identify milkweed. I want to teach them the knowledge of how to save the caterpillars from the wild.”
While Rebecca is helping to educate people through her business, John Moriarty and his team regularly monitor butterfly habitat.
“We are monitoring several species of butterflies,” says John Moriarty, senior wildlife manager with the Three Rivers Park District. “What we do is we come out about every other week and we walk these designated trails. So we monitor sections of the trail and count the butterflies of a particular species.”
Monarchs Aren’t Only Butterflies Facing Decline
Monarch butterflies currently aren’t on the endangered species list. However, several groups have petitioned to have the insect added to the endangered species.
“A lot of the population decline has been due to habitat loss,” added Moriarty. “When you convert millions of acres of prairies and grass land in to millions of acres of corn and soybeans, you don’t have the habitat for the monarchs.”
While people should be concerned about the population of monarch butterflies, Moriarty says there are other species of butterflies people should be concerned about as well.
“There is a lot of concern for monarchs which is a rightful concern,” added Moriarty. “However, there are hundreds of butterflies in Minnesota whose population numbers are just as bad as the Monarchs population.”
To do your part Moriarty suggests adding native plants to your existing garden, which will attract native butterflies. However you should avoid using any kind of pesticides and chemicals on plants, as they aren’t healthy for butterflies.