National Pollinator Week kicks off new Monarch Highway logo

Published 10:00 pm Sunday, June 18, 2017

As part of the ongoing effort to raise awareness of pollinator habitat and preservation, the Monarch Highway is proud to launch its new logo during National Pollinator Week, which started Sunday.

Minnesota is among six state transportation departments and the Federal Highway Administration that signed a memorandum of understanding in 2016 designed to improve pollinator habitat along Interstate 35, a key migratory corridor for monarch butterflies, according to a press release. Signatories include the Federal Highway Administration and senior executives from Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas to informally designate the 1,500-mile I-35 corridor as the “Monarch Highway.” This partnership demonstrates a broad commitment from state agencies, the federal government and nonprofits, including the National Wildlife Federation, toward preserving the monarch butterfly and other pollinators.

The new logo represents the interaction of the monarch and the interstate highway system. The blue backdrop signifies the miles butterflies travel to reproduce in northern climates, while the yellow demonstrates the insect’s migration along the Monarch Highway corridor. The white dotted-lines represent lane markers guiding the monarch home.

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“With the monarch population’s significant decline, it’s now more important than ever to preserve these critical habitats,” said Minnesota Department of Transportation Commissioner Charlie Zelle. “In launching the Monarch Highway logo, we hope to symbolize our continued efforts to protect this important pollinator and prevent the need to list it under the Endangered Species Act.”

Last year, the I-35 corridor was identified as a route on which land along the interstate could be developed to increase plants and provide refuge and food for critically important pollinating insects.

“State roadways provide acres of habitat ideal for pollinators, but that’s only a small portion needed for pollinator recovery,” said Zelle. “It’s important to build awareness and education about pollinator needs along the I-35 corridor to ensure monarch butterflies and other pollinators can flourish.”

Monarch butterflies born in late summer or early fall migrate south to winter in Mexico. In the spring, the butterflies return to the southern United States and lay eggs. Successive generations of monarchs continue moving north, which takes them along the I-35 corridor and finally into the northern United States and Canada. These monarchs begin the cycle over again by completing the 1,500-mile trek back to Mexico.