Federal funds aim to boost migrating monarch butterflies

In this Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015 photo, Anya Shortridge sits behind a monarch butterfly, newly emerged from a chrysalis, on a fruit basket in her living room in San Diego. Shortridge is part of a growing number of gardeners in Southern California who have been delighted to find that planting just a few milkweeds can attract dozens of the majestic black-and-orange monarchs while cutting down on water. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) Federal officials want landowners in Indiana and nine other states to grow milkweed to boost the population of monarch butterflies.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is due to spend $4 million in 2016 to help farmers and others plant milkweed and other nectar-producing plants.

Shannon Zezula, Indiana resource conservationist with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, tells The (Bloomington) Herald-Times the agency wants to re-establish habitats for monarchs and pollinators in general.

Milkweed is essential for monarchs since it is the only plant on which the butterfly will lay its eggs. It takes three to four generations for the monarchs to migrate to roosting spots in mountains of central Mexico.

The USDA funds also will be spent in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas and Wisconsin.

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