Gov. Greitens recognizes first-ever Pollinator Week

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JEFFERSON CITY- Missouri is the first state to develop a plan to try and increase the population of monarch butterflies and other pollinators.

That's the focus of the first-ever Pollinator Week, which kicked off on Tuesday.

Gov. Greitens signed it into proclamation in May.

“To have Gov. Greitens recognize the importance of pollinators and to issue a proclamation for Pollinator Week is a terrific step to show all Missourians the importance of pollinators,” Jason Jenkins, monarch and pollinator coordinator for Missourians for Monarchs, said. “We look forward to building on that momentum we have right now as it comes to improving conditions for pollinators.”

According to a February report from the Center for Biological Diversity, the monarch butterfly population has decreased by nearly 90 percent in the last 20 years. Less than 27 percent of Monarch butterflies that migrated to Mexico last year returned to the United States in 2017.

Jenkins said Missourians for Monarchs has a goal to establish 385,000 new acres of pollinator habitat across the state over the next 20 years on both private and public land.

“For us all to come together and have a plan to help turn around the situation for the Monarch butterfly, it signals to the rest of the nation that this could be done and it makes us into a leader nationally,” Jenkins said.

Charlie Wooley, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service deputy regional director, said the efforts to preserve monarch butterflies help more than just humans and other pollinators. Wooley said the conservation efforts could create more habitat for other species like grassland birds, quail and pheasants.

“Everything and everyone benefits when you work to protect monarchs and pollinators,” Wooley said. “Missourians for Monarchs is setting the bar, and this is really going to be a grassroots effort that helps restore monarchs.”

Jenkins said Missouri residents could help pollinators by growing native plants in their backyard. Jenkins said growing milkweed would help the monarch butterfly since it is the only plant they can lay eggs.

“The monarch is a wonderful ambassador, a colorful, bright ambassador, who can speak for all pollinating insects,” Jenkins said. “We can work together to help pollinators and the pollinator habitat statewide, in the Midwest and throughout the nation.” 

Missourians for Monarchs will continue its celebration of Pollinator Week with an event known as Monarch Mania on Thursday. Members from the Missouri Department of Conservation and public universities will look to educate guests with exhibits and educational activities on the Monarch butterfly species from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.