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Krischik said it’s not just agriculture that has reduced the milkweed and other flowering weedy plants that pollinating insects need for nourishment.
She said it’s also back-yard gardeners with a preference for flowering but sterile, non-seed-producing plants. Butterflies no longer can find as much food in a back yard as they once could, she said.
“We have met the enemy, and he is us,” Krischik said.
However, Howard noted that interest in “butterfly gardens” appears to be increasing, with people planting milkweed and other plants to attract a variety of pollinators.
Taylor’s Monarch Watch has launched a program to encourage people to plant milkweed in their gardens.
Monarch populations have a history of wide fluctuations. A storm in January 2002 killed 80 percent of those overwintering in Mexico, but the population was near normal a little more than a year later.
“But we’re never going to see monarchs like we did, say, in the 1990s,” Taylor said. “We’ve lost too much habitat.”
Bill McAuliffe • 612-673-7646
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