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Dig in to Support Monarch butterflies

San Diego County CA– The Resource Conservation District (RCD) of Greater San Diego County aims to protect, conserve, and restore natural resources through education, information, and technical assistance programs.

Yesterday, the RCD launched its Milkweed for Monarchs program, a new initiative to create much needed habitat for Monarch butterflies and other pollinators. Milkweed is the host plant for monarch butterfly caterpillars – it is their only food source! The number of monarch butterflies counted at overwintering sites in California and Mexico has decreased in recent years. We also are experiencing a major loss of milkweed in Monarchs’ spring and summer breeding areas, due to factors like urban and agricultural development and use of herbicides in farming, pastures, and along roadways.

The good news is that we can help reverse this trend. By planting butterfly host plants such as milkweeds and a diverse array of flowering plants in school gardens, community gardens, and front and back yards, we create new and much-needed habitat for Monarch butterflies and other pollinators.

New habitat for Monarch butterflies: Yesterday, over 1,000 narrowleaf milkweed plants, a California native variety of milkweed, were given to nearly 100 school gardens and community sites across San Diego County. Participants were also given milkweed seeds and a California native wildflower seed mix. This is just the start – the RCD will offer more plants to schools and community venues this Spring and is encouraging schools to participate in a citizen science program to monitor the Monarchs visiting and breeding in their garden, as well as the first and last dates of the year they observe Monarchs so that we can learn more about San Diego Monarchs’ overwintering habits.

Ann Baldridge, Education Coordinator at the RCD, said: “the launch of this project is timely. Today is Food Day but the food we eat would be very different without pollinators. We’re excited to think how much we can do for Monarchs and other pollinators by working together to plant more milkweed and nectar sources throughout San Diego County.”

For more information about the Milkweed for Monarchs program please visit www.rcdsandiego.org/milkweed_for_monarchs.aspx. Should you have any queries please contact Sheryl Landrum, District Manager, on 619-562-0096.