Monarch butterflies are moving through Texas on spring migration journey

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Keep your eyes open for monarch butterflies coming through Texas on their migration to northern America from Mexico, an incredible journey that crosses thousands of miles twice a year.

"There's something really special about monarchs and other butterflies that just keeps people interested," said Erin Mills, former director of the Houston Museum of Natural Science's Cockrell Butterfly Center.

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, the monarch population reached a historic low in 2017 of fewer than 29,000 butterflies, down from 1.2 million just two decades before.

Their delicate features can be misleading because the journey is tough and has become more of a challenge due to urbanization and lack of food supply.

One easy way for Texans to help is by providing a place for the butterflies to lay their eggs and give them food to eat.

"In the fall, don't worry about the milkweed because that's what they use to reproduce. They are not reproducing," Mills said. "In the spring, plant your milkweed. Have it ready because that's when they need it."

A butterfly garden with lots of flowers is also an excellent way to provide the nectar the butterflies need to eat.

"The best thing for the species to help get stronger is to give them the habitat and let nature do it's thing," Mills said.

The center also asks the public not to try to rescue any monarch butterflies that appear to be worn out with tattered wings, instead, just leave them outside and provide food and milkweed.

If you're interested in buying some plants for your own butterfly garden, the Houston Museum of Natural Science is holding a virtual plant sale on April 10. Patrons will be able to pick out and purchase their plants online, then pick them up at the museum.

HMNS has ongoing health and safety rules in place to protect visitors, including reduced capacity, face mask requirements and sanitization procedures. You can read their full health and safety guidelines on their website.

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