Milkweed planted in California to help monarch butterflies

National News

FILE – In this Nov. 7, 2005 file photo, the Monarch butterflies are back at the “butterfly grove” in Pacific Grove, Calif. A conservation group is planting more than 30,000 milkweed plants throughout California in the hope of giving Western monarch butterflies new places to breed. The San Francisco Chronicle reports Monday, May 31, 2021, that the River Partners group has joined with others and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for the plantings along the Sacramento, Feather and Kern rivers. (Vern Fisher/ Monterey County Herald via AP, File)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A conservation group is planting more than 30,000 milkweed plants in California in the hope of giving Western monarch butterflies new places to breed.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported Monday that the River Partners group has joined with others and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife on the plantings along the Sacramento, Feather and Kern rivers.

The plants are seen as critical because the orange-and-black butterflies lay their eggs on them. Their caterpillars also eat them.

The butterflies head south from the Pacific Northwest to California each winter. Earlier this year, researchers said an annual winter count recorded fewer than 2,000 of the butterflies — a massive decline.

“There couldn’t be a more critical time to be doing this,” said restoration biologist Francis Ulep of River Partners.

Scientists have said the butterflies are at critically low levels in western states because of destruction to their milkweed habitat along their migratory route as housing expands and use of pesticides and herbicides increases.

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