Monarch butterfly population may be in trouble

- The population of Monarch butterflies is in a steep decline, according to a study recently released by the University of Florida.

According to the report, scientists determined the population of Monarch butterflies has decreased since 1985 and has dropped by 80 percent in North Central Florida since 2005.

"With population growth, climate change, we're experiencing decline in not just Monarchs, but a lot of other insects that are beneficial to our environment," said President of the North American Butterfly Association of Tampa Bay Anita Camacho.

Camacho said the primary reason for the decreasing population is likely due to the increasing disappearance of milkweed, which is a primary food source for Monarchs.

"It's very concerning to me. Our environment is not getting healthier and neither are humans," she said.

Monarchs are rare insects that migrate to Mexico for the winter, often making stops in Florida.

Eric Hovland, Associate Curator at the Florida Aquarium, explained what can happen during that trip south.

"Without milkweed, without those milkweed stops, it's like going on a family vacation and -- if you didn't have those rest stations to grab a bite, take a break -- you wouldn't make your trip. Same for the Monarchs," Hovland said, adding the decline of Monarchs can be a major problem. "We need healthy pollinators like butterflies and bees to have healthy crops and healthy diets."

"If we're helping Monarchs, we're helping everything in the environment," added Camacho.

Scientists have said Floridians can help by planting native milkweed in their gardens. Experts at local nurseries can assist by recommending which milkweeds are native to this state.

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