MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesotans love the Monarch — it’s the official state butterfly.
But where they can really be seen this summer are at places like the Aveda Butterfly Garden at the Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley.
Yet even there, the numbers are down.
“We typically have hundreds of Monarchs here,” said Steve Estebo, Zoologist at the Minnesota Zoo. “This year, it’s less than a dozen … The last two years has just been terrible for Monarchs. Their population has gone way down.”
The problem starts 2,000 miles away, from where the Monarchs migrate.
Many of the special trees they roost in were chopped down, and a cold spring in Texas ruined hatching conditions.
Also, the milkweed they eat along the way has been destroyed by pesticides.
“Monarchs will only feed on milkweed,” Estebo said. “If the milkweed’s gone, the Monarchs are gone.”
That’s a problem from north to south, so a group called Monarch Watch is pushing people to plant milkweed all along the migration path.
“Even though the milkweed isn’t very showy, it attracts Monarchs,” Estebo said. “So if you can put milkweed out, it helps the population.”
Monarch Watch has instructions for planting a butterfly garden, and it even sells the seeds for milkweed.