SALT LAKE CITY — Intermountain Healthcare is creating monarch butterfly breeding habitats, or "waystations" at their hospitals and clinics around Utah to protect these butterflies, which are now candidates on the Endangered Species List.
Monarch Watch started the waystation program to help protect monarchs before they are lost as a species.
But because there are 150 other species in line ahead of monarchs for federal protection, Utah Friends of Monarchs President and Founder Rachel Taylor says it's up to citizens to help preserve their habitat.
Monarch Watch encourages communities across the country to create waystations, as milkweed is the only plant that monarch caterpillers can eat, so expanding breeding areas with these plants is critical to their survival.
According to the organization, a waystation can be easily integrated into an existing garden, though ideally it should be at least 100 square feet.
Butterflies and butterfly plants such as milkweed and nector plants need lots of sun, so they should be located in areas that receive at least six hours of sunlight a day and have adequate drainage.
They also recommend having at least 10 milkweed plants to attract the butterflies during mating season, with trees and shrubs nearby for them to hide and rest.
Multiple plants that provide nector are critical as well, as they provide essential nutrition for butterflies and other pollenators.
An added benefit? They require much less water than grass.