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Associated Press, Published August 22 2009

Minnesota population of monarch butterflies down

MINNEAPOLIS – This time of year is usually a peak season for spotting monarch butterflies in Minnesota. But if you haven’t seen as many monarchs in your back yard as in recent years, there’s a reason why.

Preliminary statistics suggest the state’s monarch butterfly population this season is 38 percent below average.

An ecologist at the University of Minnesota’s Monarch Lab says cool, dry weather is part of the problem, but land development is also to blame.

Karen Oberhauser says the milkweed and wildflowers that monarchs love to eat are being replaced with crops and lawns.

Oberhauser says residents can help the butterfly population by turning part of their lawns into a butterfly garden. That means planting flowers and milkweed.