Louisville groups work to protect pollinators

Louisville groups work to protect pollinators

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Named after a king, the Monarch butterfly is majestic.

You can see swarms of them at the Louisville Zoo's seasonal exhibit, along with several other local species of butterflies.

"People seem to really like it, it's always busy in there," Kyle Shepherd said. Shepherd is the Public Relations Manager of the Louisville Zoo. "It's an immersive experience and you walk in. You're overwhelmed with butterflies."

However, the brightly-winged creatures may not have such a bright future.

"The Monarch butterfly is the poster child for butterfly decline," Idlewild Butterfly Farm's Blair Leano-Helvey said. She says many factors contribute to a shrinking butterfly population.

"The loss of habitat," Leano-Helvey said. "So when they clear cut areas and destroy native plants, those are a lot of food sources for caterpillars and butterflies."

Different state agencies like the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture are trying their best around the state. With a mandate from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the different organizations are setting up Pollinator Habitat Zones.

Drive down one of Louisville's highways and you might see a sign that features butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. Those signs mark a designated, non-mowed area that pollinators like butterflies can call a temporary home.

"You need nectar plants for the adults to feed on," Leano-Helvey said. "You also need host plants. Every butterfly has a plant or a group of plants that the female lays her eggs on."

However, Leano-Helvey says we all could try harder by being conscious about pesticides and mowing. To be proactive, she recommends planting Milkweed, to create homes for the winged bugs with a sweet tooth.

"Even one plant makes a huge difference," Leano-Helvey said.

Idlewild-bred butterflies either get sent to the zoo or can be requested for different events. Leano-Helvey says many people request them to be present and released at weddings or memorials. The facility also serves as an educational facility for schools who are looking to incorporate entomology into their curriculum.

For more information or to get in touch with Idlewild, check out idlewildbutterflyfarm.com or find them on Facebook.

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