Highway, wildlife officials team to help monarch butterflies

BOSTON — Massachusetts highways may soon become havens for monarch butterflies and other declining insect populations.

State wildlife and transportation officials say they plan to use a $21,500 federal grant to help plant milkweed and other native plants for pollinating insects alongside some highways and on median strips.

Scientists say the monarch butterfly in particular has seen its numbers dwindle in recent years in the U.S. Northeast, in part due to the loss of meadow habitat and milkweed.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation says it will identify potential locations for seeding while MassWildlife chooses the right native seed mix for planting.

The newly formed meadows will be marked by signs. MassDOT plans to reduce mowing to just once every two to three years to give the plants time to flourish.