Elk Rapids Becomes a Monarch City, U.S.A.

"I’m so excited to see Elk Rapids become a leader in Michigan." - Cyndie Roach, GT Butterfly House & Bug Zoo

A northern Michigan community has received a national designation, with a focus on protecting the monarch butterfly.

You may have heard that the monarch is considered endangered: that official status coming last month from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. The recognizable black and orange monarch butterfly is threatened with extinction because of climate change and destruction of their habitat.Monarch

Now the village of Elk Rapids is taking steps to preserve habitat and protect the species. And the nearby Grand Traverse Butterfly House and Bug Zoo says it’s only the second city in the state to become a Monarch City. Zoo Director and Curator Cyndie Roach says, “They were looking for a way to highlight all the different changes they were making to the Village of Elk Rapids. By removing insecticides used around, for example, the library and marinas. Places that butterflies actually come through and migrate as monarchs. They use those areas to feed.”

“They’re only the second municipality in Michigan to take on that designation of Monarch City, USA,” Roach says. “It is a big thing. They did 10 important steps to get there. And those important steps weren’t easy. They had to make critical changes to how they planted their open spaces and how they manage their ecosystems.”

Milkweed is thought of as a weed that people take out of their garden instead of something they put in. But Roach says planting milkweed and staying away from weed-killers and insecticides can help preserve the monarch population.

Monarchs will continue to feed for another month until they migrate south to Mexico.