75 percent of the world’s flowering plants, and about 35 percent of the world’s food crops depend on plant-animal interactions to reproduce. More than 3,500 species of native bees help increase crop yields through the pollination process. Some scientists estimate that one out of every three bites of food we eat, exists because of animal pollinators like bees, butterflies, moths, bats, birds, beetles, and other insects. 

Monarch Butterfly

The Monarch Butterfly is an iconic pollinator species throughout the nation due to their beauty and incredible annual migration pattern. Each year in the Spring, the Monarch makes a journey from Mexico all the way to the upper Midwest to breed. They complete this 3,000-mile trek in multiple generations.


Throughout this journey and once in the Midwest, the Monarch must find milkweed to lay its eggs on. This is crucial to the species survival because the hatched larvae must feed on milkweed to survive. The Monarch will complete several life cycles throughout the summer months before a super generation hatches in late summer/early Fall. This generation will make the complete trip all the way back to Mexico and part of the return trip in the Spring


Unfortunately, the population of the Monarch Butterfly has seen an 80% decline over the past 20 years. This drastic decrease in numbers is mainly due to loss of milkweed habitat throughout the breeding areas in United States as well as loss of overwintering habitat in Mexico.

Luckily, there are things we can do to help increase the population and save the Monarch Butterfly! One easy thing you can do is establish monarch habitat wherever you live! It doesn’t matter if you have a small residential lot, an apartment patio, or a large acreage outside of town; any little bit counts! Planting milkweed as well as other nectar producing flowers can provide vital food sources for the larvae as well as the hatched adults. Visit the link below to get started creating your monarch habitat today!


Protecting Pollinators! Not only do native plants provide a great way to reduce runoff and improve water quality, they also provide the necessary habitat for many pollinators. Learn more about pollinators from some great information provided by the Blank Park Zoo and their effort to save pollinators called Plant.Grow.Fly.

They’re important. Pollinators are crucial to healthy ecosystems; a majority of our biodiversity, including plants, mammals, and birds, depend on the services provide. For example, 75% of flowering plants require insect pollination. Humans are especially dependent on pollinators as they help produce many of the fruits and vegetables that make up our diet.

Insect pollinators are also vital to our economy contributing $29 billion to farm income in the U.S. in 2010.

They’re disappearing. Pollinators, like butterflies and bees, are in decline due to a variety of reasons including disease, global climate change, loss of habitat and feeding resources, and some modern agricultural practices.

Butterflies, for instance, require large corridors of suitable habitat to navigate between nectar sources. Our increasing rates of development and expanding networks of roads, cities, and farm fields have presented them with formidable challenges.

You can help! Join and help out native pollinators thrive by planting a butterfly garden in your yard, at your school, or place of work! Our expertly researched garden plant list will help you choose the flowers and grasses that benefit our local species of the Upper Midwest.

No effort is too small. Gardens can range from several plants in pots on your porch to an entire prairie ecosystem. After you plant your garden, register it on the Plant.Grow.Fly. website.

Experts agree that even small patches of appropriate habitat on roadsides, in schoolyards, corporate landscapes, and backyards can help support butterflies and bees. These gardens can act as bridges to other gardens; creating a corridor of resources that these tiny travelers desperately need.

For more information visit

Pollinator Practices

Image of native conservation cover plants, link to conservation cover page
Conservation Cover
Contour Buffer Strip
Cover Crop
Crop Rotation
Early Successional Habitat Development & Management
Filter Strip
Field Border
Forage and Biomass Planting
Prescribed Burning
Prescribed Grazing
Riparian Forest Buffer
Upland Wildlife Habitat Management

Polk Soil and Water Conservation District

1513 North Ankeny Blvd., Suite 3

Ankeny, IA, 50023

(515) 964 1883 ext. 3

Monday – Friday

7:30 am – 4:00 pm

Polk Soil and Water Conservation District is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

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