Officials with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources are asking people around the state to help increase the Monarch butterfly population by planting and keeping milkweed.
Scientists say the official state insect has been dropping in numbers in its Mexico wintering grounds since the 1990s. The butterflies lay their eggs on Illinois' 19 species of milkweed. The larva that hatches then feeds on the plant for approximately two weeks before forming a chrysalis for its transformation into a butterfly.
The IDNR is encouraging Illinoisans to plant milkweed and other native flowering plants while avoiding mowing or spraying herbicide on patches of milkweed.
The plant grows along roads, fields, and other untended locations.
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