The record breaking heat and the lack of rain we've had in Texoma in the last few years have been factors in the drastic decrease of the monarch butterfly population.
Since butterflies are almost impossible to count, their population is measured by the area of forest they occupy.
"It has basically gone from over 20 acres of trees, literally billions of butterflies to only 3 acres. It's very significant," said Jennica Howes, the administrative assistant at the River Bend Nature Center.
The monarch population reproduces in Texas and other states in North America during the spring and summer. The butterflies find a plant called milkweed to lay their eggs on. Once the larva hatches it eats the nectar of the plant and begins to grow. But in the last few years the drought and heat have dried up the eggs and lowered the amount of nectar on milkweeds. Unfortunately that's not the only problem.
"Farmers have kind of adapted new practices where they plant crops that are resistant to herbicides. However milkweed doesn't have that resistance so when they spray those chemicals to protect their crops they're inadvertently getting rid of the milkweed which the monarchs are dependant on," said Howes.
Howes says the biggest problem is the decreasing number of these creatures is ultimately impacting the entire food chain of the animal kingdom.
"It's basically a giant circle and if you eliminate one of those things you impact not just the monarchs but everything that's dependant on monarchs like the birds that actually eat them," said Howes.
But there's a way we can all help save the butterflies and it's simple. Just plant milkweed on your garden or yard now before the majority of the monarchs get here but keep this in mind.
Howes says, "Depending on the nursery they put pesticides on their plants so if a monarch does lay its eggs on it, it will kill the young so it's better to grow your plants from seeds or visit an organic nursery that doesn't use pesticides."