The Tennessee Department of Transportation is tasked with upkeep and safety of state roads, but it’s now taking monarch butterflies under its wing.
TDOT has partnered with the Tennessee Departments of Environment Conservation and Agriculture for pollinator conservation.
The plan includes pollinator meadows and promoting pollinator health across Tennessee State Parks.
TDOT said it’s adjusting the mixes of herbicides for state-maintained roadways, even taking inventory for pollinator-friendly vegetation.
Shawn Bible of TDOT’s Environmental Division said TDOT is also decreasing rural interstate mowing.
“This right of way land, this land next to highways. You don’t think about because it’s so linear, but it actually is a wonderful spot to encourage pollinators, and so one of the big things we’ve done is reduce mowing,” said Bible. “And then outside of that, flowers and blooming grasses are growing up, and providing not just food for pollinators but homes.”
How you can help the butterfly population:
1) Buy organic and don’t treat your outdoor plants with pesticides.
2) Choose plants that attract butterflies, like milkweed.
3) Create a butterfly habitat by selecting native shrubs and trees like oak magnolias.
Zookeeper at the Nashville Zoo Glenn Rohrbach said all these measures will make a difference
“You could also plant native plants such as milkweed, butterfly weed, passion flower, Tennessee cone flower, and you can grow them in your garden bed in your backyard,” said Rohrbach. “Doesn’t have to be a large plot, and that would really help to bring these pollinators in, and give them somewhere to thrive.”