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There's A Reason You Don't See Butterflies Anymore And Here's What You Can Do About It

You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone.

If you're wondering what happened to all the butterflies, you're not imagining things.

According to, migrating Western monarch butterflies declined 85 percent from 2017 to 2018. There are 28,429 monarchs collecting on the Pacific coast, which is down from about 4.5 million in the 1980s.

There are three main reasons: severe weather, illegal deforestation, and the rise of industrialized agriculture in the Midwest.

The sheer number of butterflies are on a major decline, and that's probably why this beautiful creature that was once annoyingly common is now an exceedingly rare sight to be seen.

Here are some ways to bring them back to a backyard near you.

1. Plant lots of milkweed.

Monarch butterflies will only lay their eggs on milkweed. You'll want to plant a local, native variety and research the best place in your town to get it in order to avoid plants grown with a neonicotinoid pesticide, which are harmful for bees. (Fun fact: Lowe's has resolved to phase out neonicotinoids by 2019.) There are also many types of milkweed, and only certain ones will attract monarchs. Read more about it here.

Bees are very fond of milkweed as well.

Hot tip: A site called will give you free milkweed seeds if you send them a self-addressed stamped envelope.

2. Plant a variety of native species of plants and flowers to get more kinds of butterflies to visit.

Parsley, dill, and bronze fennel are great for swallow tails while roses and mulberries are great for mourning cloaks.

Here's a handy chart of what plants and flowers attract which species.

They love brightly colored flowers, especially reds, oranges, pinks, purples, and yellows.

3. Feed the butterflies by making butterfly nectar.

Here are a few alternatives for butterfly nectar and mash as well.

4. Soak sponges (remember that they love bright colors!) in nectar in a shallow dish to create a butterfly feeder.

5. Glass stones in a shallow dish make for a pretty and simple butterfly and bee waterer.

Use fresh water and keep the water shallow.

6. Make a butterfly-attracting fruit feeder.

They love oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, peaches, nectarines, apples and bananas.

7. Put some large rocks in your garden in sunny spots for butterflies to bask on — they absorb heat from the sun and help raise their body temperature for flight.

Jarmila Horalkova / Getty Images

8. Make a butterfly salt lick, which are particularly attractive to male butterflies.

Butterflies love to gather around mud puddles to soak in the extra salt and minerals, which can be replicated by a salt lick. Get the butterfly salt lick directions here.

With just a little extra effort, you can now bring on the butterflies in your own garden or yard.