GAINESVILLE, Fla. — New research shows the number of butterflies and caterpillars in North Florida has been declining substantially over the last decade or so.
The University of Florida study released this week says the number has declined by 80 percent since 2005.
The Tampa Bay Times says researchers believe two major factors could be responsible. Milkweed is the favorite food of young monarchs, and its availability has been sharply reduced by development and by glyphosate, an herbicide widely used in agriculture to kill weeds.
Researcher Jaret Daniels says Florida is a staging ground of sorts for the recolonization of butterflies on the U.S. East Coast.