Everyone’s assistance is needed in helping to create habitat for the monarch butterfly. The butterfly population is declining and common and swamp milkweed plants are essential to the monarch’s survival.

For that reason, the Geauga Soil and Water Conservation District is partnering with the Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative to help restore the butterfly’s habitat with a statewide milkweed pod collection.

In the Chagrin Valley, local Girl Scouts have been planning for a milkweed garden at the South Russell Village Park.  Junior Girl Scout Troop 1352 will be creating and installing the garden Sept. 14. They have been growing the plants in preparation for the planting.

Geauga Park District Naturalist Linda Gilbert said she advised the troop to put the plantings at the Bell Road entrance to the village park.

The county soil and water district is asking the public to collect and drop off common and swamp milkweed seed pods at its office in Burton. There will be a bin outside the office.

The seed pods will be gathered through Oct. 30 and should be collected when the pods are dry and gray or brown in color, district officials said. Collections should be done in paper bags, not plastic which could attract moisture and mold.

Harvesting the seed pods will not affect the population of milkweed in established areas.

Katie Nainger of the soil and water conservation district said the pods will be going to the Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative and then distributed across the state to those who can plant them.

“They will come to us first and the habitat initiative will pick them up, sort them and they will be replanted as part of the initiative,” Ms. Nainger said. “This is the first year for the program.”

Monarchs cannot survive without milkweed, the only plants these butterflies use to lay their eggs, she said. A large population of milkweed plants have been eradicated by pesticides, Ms. Nainger noted.

Butterflies that hatch here migrate to Mexico for the winter and start the life cycle again in the spring, according to the conservation district.

Marci Lininger, biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said Ohio is a priority area for monarchs. “This generation of monarchs are also responsible for starting the life cycle in the spring and laying the following year’s first generation of monarchs in late summer.”

The Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative was established in response to the 2014 petition to list the monarch butterfly as federally endangered. 

Its mission is to inform people, including landowners, farmers and government agencies of the importance of pollinators and the habitat they need to survive.

The Geauga Soil and Water Conservation District office is at 14269 Claridon Troy Road in Burton. For more information, contact the office at 440-834-1122 or visit the website at www.geaugaswcd.com. The Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative can be reached at 614-416-8993.

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