Monarch Butterflies Flourish at Monsanto Hawaii Farms
Monsanto Hawaii farms have become havens for the monarch butterfly. Through Monsanto’s monarch butterfly program, nearly 100 thriving crown flower (Calotropis gigantea) plants have been added to the Kunia and Molokai farms in an effort to increase the butterfly’s milkweed habitat and protect biodiversity.
“Since we don’t have milkweed in Hawaii, the crown flower - which belongs to the same milkweed family - has become a host habitat for monarch butterflies,” said Krishna Bayyareddy, Entomology Production Lead at Monsanto Hawaii. “A monarch caterpillar hatches from a tiny egg laid by a female butterfly. It will go through five moltings while feeding on crown flower, then turns into a chrysalis and emerges as a beautiful butterfly. The transition from egg to adult takes less than a month.”
Known in Hawaii as pua kalaunu, the crown flower serves as an important source of food for the monarch caterpillar. It is also said to be the favorite flower of Queen Lilioukalani who often wore it as a lei.
In July 2015, employees at Monsanto Hawaii’s Kunia farm planted 58 crown flower shrubs and intend to increase to nearly 100 by the end of this year. On Molokai, a total of 34 crown flower shrubs have been planted.
“The monarch butterfly plays an important role as a pollinator, so it’s exciting to see the population flourish in such a short amount of time,” said Bayyareddy. “The Kunia farm alone can be home to as many as 100 monarch butterflies at any given moment.”
As a sustainable agricultural company, Monsanto is committed to restoring the habitat and ecosystem for the monarch butterfly. Monsanto partners with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Monarch Watch, Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium, Pheasants Forever, University of Guelph and the University of Illinois at Chicago, Energy Resources Center to specifically address this element of biodiversity.
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