Monarch butterfly populations may be in decline, but an Omro dairy farm is one of a number of farms around the state of Wisconsin working to help the butterflies flourish.
Omro Dairy, which is owned by Kaukauna-based Milk Source, has established more than 3 acres of protective zones for Monarch butterflies around its farm on East Scott Street in Omro, the Oshkosh Northwestern reported.
Staff said they hope it will improve populations by giving butterflies places to land and lay eggs along their migration route through Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.
'Five generations of Monarchs' in a summer
Monarchs typically only live about five weeks and travel 3,000 miles every spring and summer. They lay eggs in areas with milkweed, and their offspring continue the journey, Harke said. As many as five generations of Monarchs may be born in one summer.
Lack of habitat is one of the main reasons why Monarch populations have declined more than 90 percent since the 1980s, said Bill Harke, director of public affairs for Milk Source. However butterflies are important to farmers’ work as they help pollinate everything.
When the idea to plant milkweed came to light through a partnering family of Milk Source, a number farms started planting milkweed along stretches of fields. Next June, Monarchs should be floating about, laying eggs on the plants and increasing the number of butterflies. Milkweed mother plants will also create new seeds that will grow around it, further increasing places for Monarchs to land and lay eggs.
Harke said it’s nice to be able to contribute locally to efforts that groups around the country are leading to save the butterflies. The protection zones in Omro are just a handful of 50 zones throughout Wisconsin and Michigan that Milk Source is preserving for butterflies.
“We have the fields,” he said. “So we can do something like this.”
The efforts also align with Omro Dairy’s practice of fertilizing and feeding local. The farm has about 1,500 acres, and gets 40,000 tons of feed for cows from local farmers in the area.