Final push to harvest essential plant to increase population of butterfly species

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People across the Valley are being asked to turn in this type of plant to prevent the decline of this butterfly population

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Mahoning County Soil & Water Conservation District is making a final push this week to collect milkweed pods from around the Valley. The pods will help a declining species of butterfly.

The district office is looking to collect milkweed pods to help reverse the decline of monarch butterflies.

According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the disappearance of milkweed — the only host plant for monarch caterpillars — across the United States has contributed to the 80% decline of the monarch butterfly population over the last 20 years.

The pods are important because they give the butterflies a place to nest and eat.

“It provides a place for them to lay their larvae and then the larvae, once they hatch in two to three weeks, they eat their egg and they start to eat the nectar of the milkweed pod,” Kathleen Vrable-Bryan said.

She said it’s important to keep the monarch butterfly species well-populated because of how much they do for the environment.

“Every one in three bites of food that we, as humans, consume are because of pollinators pollinating agricultural crops so without them, our food supply goes down.”

People are encouraged to harvest milkweed seed pods as part of a statewide effort to establish habitats for the monarch butterfly population.

They’re a little particular about the milkweed pods they’re accepting. Pods must be dry and gray or brown in color — not green. The key point is the seeds inside should be brown before harvesting.

Keep them in a cool, dry place until you can turn them in. The pods should be stored in paper bags — not plastic — and brought to the Mahoning County Soil & Water Conservation District office at 850 Industrial Rd. in Youngstown. Write the date and the county where the pods were collected on the bag.

The office will be collecting the pods through the end of the week.

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