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Butterflies thrive in Southern Arizona following record breaking monsoon

Queen butterflies at El Rio Preserve
Posted at 6:40 AM, Sep 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-07 09:40:03-04

MARANA, Ariz. (KGUN) — This monsoon brought record breaking rain to Southern Arizona and the natural desert landscape is thriving because of it.

"Last summer, we didn't really see many butterflies. This Summer, due to all the rains, it's just been a great opportunity," Town of Marana Natural Resources Recreation Supervisor, Mary Grodman.

Grodman has seen hundreds of butterflies stopping by El Rio Preserve. The majority are the species known as "Queen" butterflies, who are often mistaken for their Monarch cousins. The best time to see them are in the morning and early evening hours.

"Queen butterflies, as well as Monarchs, use milkweed as a host plant. They feed on it. They lay their eggs on it. We do have a lot of milkweed here in the garden," said Grodman.

Monarchs are expected to migrate through Southern Arizona from September to November. In recent years, the population has dramatically declined.

"Milkweed is one of the reasons we are seeing a decrease in Monarch butterflies. That's the only plant they will lay their eggs in," said Grodman.

The Town of Marana hopes the blooming milkweed will attract Monarchs to the preserve. Grodman said planting milkweed in your own backyard can also help support the species.

"If you can plant different pollinator species in your garden, you're more likely to have a backyard full of butterflies," said Grodman.