‘The solution is literally in our backyard’: local woman creates campaign to help endangered monarch butterflies

A Cambridge woman is attempting to help save monarch butterflies from extinction.

Alana Russell said she wanted to take action after finding out monarch butterflies were added to the endangered species list.

“They are an international symbol of hope. So for that reason I think they deserve our attention,” Russell said. “The solution is literally in our backyard.”

She started a campaign called the Fly Home Project where she provides milkweed seeds to people in the community.

“I sourced the seeds from a company in Ontario,” she said. “I was able to connect with them, have been working with them to get the seeds to our area and then I’ll distribute the seeds to those who subscribe.”

Milkweed is a type of plant monarchs depend on to lay their eggs and reproduce.

The Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory said planting milkweed is one way to help protect the fluttering insects.

“We want to give them milkweed because that’s what they’re dependent on as larva, but we just need to put a lot of native plants back out there. Give them the habitat that used to be found before we started building,” said Andalyne Tofflemire, a naturalist at the conservatory.

Earlier this summer, the International Union for Conservation of Nature added monarchs to the endangered species list.

However, Tofflemire said in Canada, monarchs are still listed as “special concern.”

“We all can agree that their populations are on a decline, and that is a concern. But it all depends which list you’re looking at and what they are classified as.”

Tofflemire points to a loss of habitat, pesticide use and climate change for the monarch’s dwindling population.

Russell said she has roughly 500 packets of milkweed seeds to distribute and hopes her part can help give hope to the orange and black insects that give her hope.

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