As monarch butterflies prepare to fly north, BASF is encouraging farm families to provide a layover for these iconic insects by planting milkweed habitats along the migration path as part of the company’s Monarch Challenge.
The Monarch Challenge is a program of BASF’s biodiversity initiative Living Acres, which seeks to restore the monarch population, by planting milkweed habitats in non-crop areas of a farmer’s land. Milkweed is an important part of the monarch’s life cycle, as it is the only plant where adult monarchs will lay their eggs. The leaves of the milkweed serve as a main food source for monarch larvae. The Monarch Challenge shares best practices on milkweed development with farmers to help support the monarch butterfly.
North Carolina farmer Andy Herring participated in the 2017 Monarch Challenge and encourages other farm families to sign up and help create an even larger monarch “wing” print.
“Right now, we’ve got the milkweed in a grassy area,” said Herring. “It’s out of the spray areas and away from the field and will be protected from any kind of inputs that would go into the farm. It’s in a fertile area surrounded by grasses and other native plants. We noticed a few butterflies later in the season, which makes me think we’re doing something right.”
Last year, nearly 500 farm families signed up for the Monarch Challenge and received a combined 9,000 seedlings and kits to create their own milkweed plots.
“Farm families like the Herrings are positioned to positively impact the monarch population, which is why BASF is partnering with them to establish milkweed habitats in non-crop areas of their land,” said Chip Shilling, BASF Sustainability Strategy Manager. “We hope programs like the Monarch Challenge can help restore and preserve the monarch population for future generations, while demonstrating how milkweed can thrive alongside modern agricultural practices.”
With the success of last year’s challenge and the continued interest in aiding these iconic insects, BASF is looking to grow the program to 1,000 farm families in 2018. Now is the time for farm families to get involved with the challenge and receive their own milkweed seedlings to plant this spring. To sign up, visit www.monarchchallenge.com.