monarch migration

How to Attract Monarch Butterflies Into Your Yard During Their Migration

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If you want to capitalize on your last chance to see a surge of monarch butterflies in the Chicago area, now is the time.

According to experts at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, the beautiful butterflies are now in what's called the Great Monarch Migration, where butterflies in the U.S. east of the Rocky Mountains, travel south to survive the winter.

"We've been seeing a lot around right now," Allen Lawrance, associate curator of entomology at Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, told NBC's Chicago Today.

As the butterflies migrate, Lawrance said they'll need to make stops, including in Chicago.

"Those monarchs that are migrating south are looking for food and they need sort of a rest stop together," he said.

So what can do you to bring them to your backyard or balcony?

Lawrance says various wildflowers can encourage monarch butterflies to stop.

"Things like goldenrod, aster and blue nile - those are really good nectar resources for them," he said. "But you also want to have host plants available if you want them around year round."

Lawrance recommends growing an herb garden, with parsley, dill and fennel to encourage butterflies to come to your yard.

Don't have a yard?

Doug Taron, chief curator for the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, said butterflies tend to stay near floral nectar, which is commonly found in parks with lots of flowers. He noted that monarchs have been gathering around the grounds of the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum during their migration.

The lakefront is an ideal place to spot the butterflies, he explained, as they tend to use coastlines and waterways during migration. As for people west of Chicago, monarchs have also been spotted along both the Mississippi River and the Illinois River.

"This year seems to be a reasonably good migration," Taron said. "People are reporting recently good numbers of monarchs."

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