Our Views: La. hosts a butterfly with dwindling population, the Monarch butterfly _lowres

Monarch butterfly ORG XMIT: NY353

CharacterStyle/BoldDropcap1trueGiven Louisiana’s status as a top tourist destination, we already know that the state gets a lot of visitors each year. What’s less known, perhaps, is that many of those visitors are butterflies.

Monarch butterflies use Louisiana and several other southeastern states as stopovers during their migration from wintering grounds in Mexico to breeding grounds in the Midwest, a trip that can take up to 3,000 miles.

But monarch populations have been in drastic decline for a number of years, and now wildlife officials are trying to help Louisiana and other states to boost the butterflies’ numbers.

With funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the nonprofit Wildlife Habitat Council will try to restore habitat for the monarch, mainly by planting milkweed, a favorite butterfly food, and other forms of vegetation the butterflies like.

Monarchs are beautiful, of course, but they also play a valuable role in pollinating plants, and they’re a critical part of the food chain for other wildlife.

We hope that official efforts to help monarch butterflies prove successful. In the meantime, homeowners can do their part by planting milkweed in their backyards – a small gesture of Louisiana hospitality for creatures who really need it.