Public radio from Western Michigan University 102.1 NPR News | 89.9 Classical WMUK
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

A key monarch food source would be "noxious" no longer if a bill in Michigan's Senate becomes law

A black monarch caterpillar with yellow and white stripes munches on the deep green leaf on a milkweed plant. Two black antennae like body parts protrude from the caterpillar. The plant is fuzzy, with white veins spreading throughout it.
Sehvilla Mann
A monarch caterpillar munches on milkweed near Frankfort, MI in August 2019.

Legislation aimed at protecting a key food source for monarch caterpillars got a hearing in a state Senate committee Tuesday, Feb. 6.

Monarch larvae are picky, electing to eat only milkweed, but a Michigan law classifies milkweed as “noxious,” which gives municipalities greater power to eradicate it.

A bill introduced by Democratic Representative Samantha Steckloff of Farmington Hills would remove milkweed from the state's "noxious weeds" list.

The Michigan House passed the legislation in November. Steckloff said the bill is vital for protecting monarch habitat throughout the state.

“This isn't just a rural-area-type bill, this is very important to our suburbs and to our major cities,” Steckloff said.

Ronda Spink is with the Michigan Butterfly Network, run by the Kalamazoo Nature Center.

Spink said she appreciates the bill, but added that other tactics may be more effective.

“I think what's going to make the difference is just getting the word out to people that it's important to protect the habitats and grow milkweed wherever they can, and nectar sources, create gardens and all that," Spink said. "I think that's probably going to make more difference than the bill.”

Steckloff said the legislation enjoys bipartisan support, though she’s not sure when the Senate Committee on Local Government will vote on it.

Michael Symonds reports for WMUK through the Report for America national service program.

Report for America national service program corps member Michael Symonds joined WMUK’s staff in 2023. He covers the “rural meets metro” beat, reporting stories that link seemingly disparate parts of Southwest Michigan.