Milkweed balls

Milkweed Matters will be hosting a "crowdplanting" project during RAGBRAI to increase pollinator habitats. Milkweed balls like the ones pictured will be distributed in Britt and Swaledale during the bicycle ride. 

MASON CITY | Lime Creek Nature Center is partnering with a milkweed "crowdplanting" project during RAGBRAI July 22-29.

For the fourth year, riders on the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa will increase pollinator habitats by tossing thousands of seedballs onto roadsides during the 411-mile route. 

Milkweed Matters volunteers will staff educational booths at eight sites along the route, where up to 8,000 seedballs will be distributed each day. 

North Iowa distribution sites include Britt on July 25 and Swaledale on July 26. Riders, support drivers and locals are encouraged to stop by the booth. 

The balls are composed of 50 percent soil and 50 percent clay, and contain an average of four common milkweed seeds collected from Iowa roadsides and gardens. 

The organization says milkweed plays an essential role in the life cycle of the monarch butterfly, as adult monarchs lay their eggs exclusively on milkweed, and larvae only feed on those plants. 

Milkweed used to be common in Iowa between rows of crops and along fence rows, but the organization says glyphosate herbicides have had a "disastrous effect" on the plant, leading the monarch population to decline as much as 90 percent the past decade. 

Local landowners and county roadside managers along the RAGBRAI route are asked to consider sustainable mowing practices to maintain natural prairies. 

"Milkweed Matters believes that safety around intersections can occur alongside a thriving habitat," the organization said in a news release. 

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