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How to help monarch butterflies in your area

One of the primary reasons for the recent decline of monarch butterflies, scientists think, is the eradication of milkweed plants — which the monarchs lay eggs on and their larvae eat — along U.S. highways and near farmland due to the use of herbicides. Here are suggestions how individuals can help:

∎ Plant native milkweed in your yard and encourage local government to plant it in parks. There are several sources for free milkweed seeds. Consult livemonarch.com for sources of seeds. Monarchwatch.org provides a list of providers of milkweed plants and seeds. Be sure to determine which variety is appropriate to the area where you live.

∎ Join programs to monitor monarch butterfly movements and presence in your area. A national count conducted by the North American Butterfly Association is July 1 in Canada and July 4 in the United States. The association’s website is naba.org.

∎ Write local and state legislators to encourage them to include milkweed among the plants that are seeded along highway roadsides, especially those that follow monarch migratory routes. Get involved in pushing legislators to set aside larger tracts for milkweed.

— Tim Johnson

McClatchy News Service

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