Tools from the BASF Living Acres Monarch Challenge are helping farmers build the habitat monarchs need to make their way north, including a vital sidekick: milkweed.
“Milkweed is critical to the monarch throughout its life cycle, but can be difficult to grow,” said Laura Vance, Biology Project Leader, BASF. “The Living Acres Monarch Challenge is a program that helps farmers create more milkweed habitat alongside their production acres to increase the monarch population.”
The first 500 farmers to join the Monarch Challenge will receive 18 butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) seedlings, a hose, gloves, and a guide book to help them create this important habitat. Planting milkweed seedlings is one of the easiest ways to start a habitat that will sustain itself for years to come.
As Vance explained, milkweed is critical for monarchs. “The leaves are the only food source for monarch caterpillars. It is where the adults lay their eggs and the blossoms provide food for migrating adults.”
Monarch Challenge participants are encouraged to share their milkweed planting success throughout the year by posting pictures to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter using #MonarchChallenge.
BASF developed its biodiversity program, Living Acres, in 2015 with the initial goal of helping to restore the monarch population. Through Living Acres, BASF researches the most efficient way to grow milkweed alongside high production agriculture. The Monarch Challenge represents the next step in sharing best practices on milkweed development with farmers to help support the monarch butterfly.