There has been a lot of attention in the press around here lately about the declining numbers of monarch butterflies in Minnesota. The number of monarchs fluctuates from year to year depending on weather and other conditions. However the number of monarchs in Minnesota has decreased more often during recent years. According o the University of Minnesota's Monarch Lab this years population is 38% lower then the average for this time of year, when monarch populations are usually at their peak in Minnesota. Expert believe that the cool , dry weather that we have had over the summer has probably played a part in the population decline but other factors, like habitat lose may also have a long term effect on the monarch population. Increased development and agriculture have decreased the amount of wild flowers and milkweed that are available to the monarchs. The monarch butterflies rely on nectar from various flowers for food while the monarch caterpillar feeds exclusively on milkweed. The best thing that people can do to help out the monarch is to plant flowers and milkweed where they can. Take a little piece of yard and convert it from lawn, which sucks up water and is not very beneficial to local wildlife, into a butterfly garden. That way we can continue to see the Minnesota State butterfly in Minnesota for generations to come.
To read more about the monarch population decrease in Minnesota check out this article from Minnesota Public Radio.
To get info on creating a butterfly garden The Butterfly Site.com has a lot of good info.