A vanishing but beloved insect may regain a foothold on restoring its population through the efforts of a corporation in Neosho, and it's partnership with an organization that helps young men regain control of their lives.

A vanishing but beloved insect may regain a foothold on restoring its population through the efforts of a corporation in Neosho, and it’s partnership with an organization that helps young men regain control of their lives.

Fresh off providing $5,000 to Teen Challenge of the Four States through the Jarden Consumer Solutions (JCS) Community Fund — that also donated $1,100 to the Lafayette House — JCS has begun a project that company officials hope will attract monarch butterflies and help regenerate the species.

Gary May, senior facilities manager, JCS, Neosho, said the corporation has begun an initiative to bring back the monarch butterfly.

“During the research, we found that there are not a lot of places for the monarch to lay their eggs and have their young,” said May. “Knowing that Teen Challenge does a lot of planting of flowers and vegetation in the area, we teamed up with them asked them to come up and help us create a monarch butterfly natural habitat.”

May said the more than 5,000 square feet of monarch habitat, constructed on the south side of Jarden’s Neosho main distribution facility, was planted with milkweed and an assortment of grasses that are known to attract the monarch. He said 18 butterfly bushes and a variety of flowers that attract several types of butterflies were also planted.

“We’re also going to harvest rainwater coming off our roofs, so we’ll have plenty of natural water for that area,” he said. “It’s just going to look natural. We just tried to create something that is natural for the butterflies as possible.”

Even during the summer when it doesn’t rain, he said much dew accumulates on the building and the water will be gathered from the buildings into tanks to provide water for the natural area, with very low maintenance.

May said the combination of flowering plants and grasses will also contribute to a low maintenance, natural area for the butterflies.

He said, “When we did our research we found that we should pick out an area where there’s not a lot of traffic, some wind protection, plenty of sunlight, so that’s why we picked this particular place.”

Duane Bullard, JCS Neosho human resources manager, explained, “Our corporation has taken this on North America-wide. Our Canadian counterparts up there are also doing things to support that, because the monarch butterfly is probably one of the few insects that migrate. They migrate from Canada to Mexico to the mountains down there — from my understanding is more than three to four generations — and then they go back.”

Bullard said the habitat for the monarch butterfly in Mexico has been severely depleted due to population growth and other factors. Their numbers have been steadily decreasing, down to about 10 percent of what they were a decade ago.

He cited a New York Times article from Jan. 30, 2014, that states: “The migrating population has become so small — perhaps 35 million, experts guess — that the prospects of its rebounding to levels seen even five years ago are diminishing.”

The article quotes the Mexican government and World Wildlife Fund, which stated, “The span of forest inhabited by the overwintering monarchs shrank last month to a bare 1.65 acres.”

That is just 56 percent of last year’s record low total.

“At their peak in 1996, the monarchs occupied nearly 45 acres of forest.”

With many company facilities within the migration path of the monarch butterfly, Bullard said Jarden Consumer Solutions has determined that the corporation will do what it can to establish areas on their properties that support the habitat for the species.

Bullard explained that the butterfly bushes are an attractant, but it is the milkweed on which the monarch likes to lay its eggs.

“Farmers don’t like milkweed,” he said. “It gets in the way of their crops, so there’s not as much of it around as there used to be. Not to mention the fact that urbanization — the landscape — has taken out a lot of milkweed, too. So by placing that there we give the butterflies an option.”

He said this is just the start in Neosho.

“This particular location where we’ve put plants that attract them and they like is just the first of maybe three different areas we are going to have here,” he said. “We’re going to do some things up closer to the building, and then something out by our flag pole. The monarch butterfly will have a safe haven here at least.”