While the story of the monarch's decline and hopeful comeback
stretches well beyond the borders of Illinois, the Illinois
Department of Natural Resources plays a vital role in monarch
butterfly conservation in Illinois.
"Forty years ago, Illinois schoolchildren convinced the Illinois
General Assembly to adopt the monarch butterfly as Illinois' state
insect," said IDNR Director Marc Miller. "Help us honor that legacy
by working with us to conserve habitat for the monarch, and make our
state parks and backyards safe harbors for these amazing,
The fate of the monarch in Illinois is tied to the fate of the
milkweed, the host plants used by the monarch's familiar striped
caterpillars. In Illinois, there are 19 species of milkweeds that
mostly grow in prairies, though some can be found in woodlands,
untilled fields, roadsides and ditches.
Monarch butterflies lay their eggs on milkweed plants. In a few
days, the egg hatches into a larvae or caterpillar. The caterpillar
feeds for about two weeks until it is ready to form its chrysalis.
In 10 days to two weeks, the adult butterfly emerges. Monarch
butterflies are migratory, and it takes four generations to complete
the journey from the central United States to wintering grounds in
Mexico and back again.
Here's how you can help:
and native flowering plants in your landscaping. Don't mow or
spray herbicide on milkweed patches.
where possible. Milkweeds grow readily along roadsides, field
edges, fallow fields and other untended places. Cutting back on
mowing saves fuel and time, and it provides habitat for many
other species of grassland birds, mammals and insects.
have native plant sales during the spring. Additionally, the
IDNR annually offers a Schoolyard Habitat Grant. Visit the
grants page to see if your organization qualifies:
educated about monarch conservation. The IDNR offers a variety
of resources for schools and educators. Check
publications from the IDNR Office of Education and Outreach are
available in PDF format:
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What we're doing:
As the largest landowner in Illinois, the IDNR is doing its part
to keep the environment healthy for all native species. Illinois
state parks, nature preserves, state forests and other properties
play a significant role in the survival of countless species of
insects, birds, plants, fish and animals — including the monarch
butterfly. Illinois has 324 state-owned and leased state parks, fish
and wildlife areas, state forests, state trails, natural areas, and
recreational sites; with 45 million visits annually.
The highest quality natural communities in Illinois have been
identified through the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory. These
28,000 acres occupy 0.077 percent of the Illinois landscape but
represent the best opportunity to preserve and protect a large
percentage of the terrestrial biodiversity of the state. Many of
these identified sites owned by the IDNR, other public entities and
private individuals have been formally protected under the Illinois
Nature Preserves Commission. IDNR staff conducts stewardship
projects throughout the year — from invasive species control to
controlled burns and hydrological restoration — all of which go to
make these habitats more sustainable and viable, including for
milkweeds and monarchs.
Illinois Department of
file received from
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]
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