Residents will not be seeing a lot of monarch butterflies this year. Mike Jeffords of the Illinois Natural History Survey says the drought negatively affected the population. He says the dry weather damaged a lot of the milkweed and caused migration problems.
"When they did raise the migratory breed in the fall, they had a long way to go with not a lot of nectar plants because of the drought," he says. "Especially when they got to Texas and northern Mexico, there was almost 1000 miles of basically desolate landscape with no nectar."
Jeffords says the problem goes beyond just this year. He says harsh winter weather in Mexico two years ago killed around 80 percent of the population. Because of this, he says fewer monarchs were able to migrate back to the United States.
He also says monarchs are a symptom of the general decrease in butterflies.
"If we were scientists, we would call it a dampening oscillating sine wave," he says. "In other words, when you hit a tuning fork and it vibrates fast and then it just slowly vibrates less--that's sort of what's happening to butterfly populations."
Jeffords says insect patterns are always cyclic, and he isn't sure if monarchs will return to their usual numbers next year. This year, he says he's seen around a half dozen monarchs.
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