Empowering Communities

ComEd Preparing a Feast to Help Save Monarch Butterflies

May 4, 2016

If you plant it, they will come – and go! That’s the idea behind ComEd’s plan to plant 30 percent more milkweed in its prairie grass this winter to help the Illinois monarch butterfly population migrate north. Milkweed is a critical plant for monarch butterflies because it is the only nutritional source for monarch caterpillars.

The population of these beautiful orange and black butterflies has seen a dramatic drop in the last 20 years. In 2014, 90 percent of the population had been lost due to several factors, including losses of food plants in their breeding grounds. News outlets have reported a slight increase this year, but the butterflies are still struggling.

The milkweed project is part of ComEd’s commitment to the environment.

“Many of ComEd’s Rights of Way are in the breeding grounds of the monarch butterflies,” said Isaac Akridge, Vice-President of Support Services for ComEd. “By increasing the milkweed seed in our prairie mix, we hope to create a stronger environment for the monarch butterflies and help bolster their population.”

This milkweed effort is part of ComEd’s ongoing prairie restoration program, which helps restore native prairie habitats on land along power lines in an effort to provide habitat for native plant and animal species. As part of the work, ComEd removes invasive plant species that interfere with native prairie plants and ComEd’s ability to maintain its power lines. ComEd then plants native prairie plants and flowers in those areas.

Although Illinois is known as the “Prairie State”, less than 0.01 percent of Illinois’ original 21 million acres of prairie remains today.  Most remaining prairies survive only as tiny, isolated patches and many species of prairie plants and animals have either disappeared or are in rapid decline due to loss of habitat.

ComEd is doing its part to restore Illinois prairie grass – and help the state insect, the monarch butterfly, along the way!