CLEVELAND — Amy Roskilly has a passion for helping the environment. Right now, she has her sights set on saving the monarch butterflies.
She grows the butterfly's host plant, milkweed, at her home in Cleveland.
This plant, also known as asclepias syriaca, is essential for the butterflies.
"The monarch lands on these and it’s one of the plants she can lay her eggs on because the caterpillars have to eat these leaves," Roskilly explained.
The monarch population has declined by more than 80% over the past two decades.
“We are losing this iconic species of butterfly that makes this amazing two-way migration, 3,000 miles every year," she said. "If we lose that, we have really lost something special in nature.”
In an effort to get the community involved in saving these butterflies, The Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative is collecting milkweed pods.
"They are collecting them and then they are processed, meaning they will get all of the fluffy stuff off the inside with the seeds," Roskilly said. "Those seeds will be used to start habitats around the state of Ohio.”
Many soil and water conservation districts around the state are collecting the pods, like the one Roskilly is involved with in Cuyahoga County.
"So if you think about it, if you were a monarch butterfly or any type of insect or wildlife, you need food, you need sun, you need shelter, you need all of these things to live," she said. "If you are a little butterfly flying across all of these yards and you don’t see the habitat you need, it is going to be really tough for you to survive.”
It’s more important now than ever to help these pollinators survive due to their habitat constantly decreasing.
"We need pollinators, monarchs included, they need habitat to survive, and their habitat is decreasing by about 6,000 acres a day," she explained. "That’s not just for monarchs, that’s for all pollinators and wildlife as well.”
The milkweed pod collection runs through the end of October.