Pollinators are in decline due to a variety of reasons including global climate change, loss of habitat and feeding resources, and some modern agricultural practices. Butterflies, for instance, require large corridors of suitable habitat to navigate between nectar sources. Our increasing rates of development and expanding networks of roads have presented them with formidable challenges. According to Monarch Watch, butterflies lose habitat areas equivalent to the size of Illinois every 16 years - that's an average of 2.2 million acres lost per year.
Butterflies require not only connecting high quality swaths of habitat, but also specific types of plants that help them to feed and reproduce: nectar plants and host plants, respectively. Each species of butterfly has specific sets of needs these plants must meet to be used. In Iowa, the majority of our butterflies need region-specific grassland plants. However, these plants are just as threatened as the butterflies they help: since European settlement, Iowa has lost more than 99.9% of its native tallgrass prairie. Iowa butterflies - and the habitats in which they live - need our help.
You can join Plant.Grow.Fly. by creating a much-needed pollinator habitat at your home, school or even place of work! Our expertly researched garden recipes will help you to plant flower and grasses that benefit local species the most. Please click here for printable information.
Saving Pollinators One Garden at a Time
In the spring of 2016, Polk County Conservation worked with 10 religious organizations to install native pollinator gardens at their places of worship. In addition to providing the garden designs and native plants, we educated congregations about pollinators and steps they can take at home to help pollinators. This project was made possible by a Resource Enhancement and Protection-Conservation Education Program (REAP-CEP) grant.
Resources and Links
Looking for more information about pollinators and gardening? Check out the sites listed below for additional resources and information.
Plant. Grow. Fly.
Through the Plant.Grow.Fly. website, you will find easy, region-specific garden recipes to help you plant the flowers and grasses that our native butterflies and bees need the most. Once you plant your garden, you can register it with Plant.Grow.Fly., send us a picture of your garden and be recognized on our website, showing for our Midwestern pollinators.
More than just a clearinghouse for information on insects, this site helps expand on the natural histories of our subjects. See and insect in your garden that you can't identify? Ask for help at:
The Xerces Society
The Xerces Society is a nonprofit organization that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat. For forty years, the Society has been at the forefront of invertebrate protection worldwide, harnessing the knowledge of scientists and the enthusiasm of citizens to implement conservation programs. To learn more visit: