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More monarch butterflies may return to Midwest with warmer weather

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Near KINGSVILLE, Mo. -- Warmer weather brings a return of Monarch butterflies as the colorful creatures migrate north from Mexico during the next few weeks.

Some say we may see more butterflies this summer. That's because butterfly watchers counted more Monarchs in Mexico during the winter than at any time in the last 10 years.

The orange and black winged insects have seen their numbers dwindle in recent years as their habitat disappears.

At Powell Gardens, those who cultivate the butterfly habitat expect to see Monarchs arrive at any time, but warn that cold snaps could kill off any population growth and slow their migration.

"Around this time, the milkweed in the yards might not be very big," Eric Perrette said, a Powell Gardens horticulturist. "You might want to go out and check them because if you get one mama monarch coming by, she'll cover it with eggs because usually butterflies like to use the newest growth. Even if you have a big stand of milkweed, she will seek out this size of sloppiest milkweed to lay her eggs."

Restoring milkweed and other wildflowers is important for pollinators like butterflies and the health of the Great Plains.

Some Kansas City neighborhoods have even established Monarch way stations, where milkweed and butterfly bushes are planted to help the insects on their journey.

The first butterfly of spring spotted in Powell Gardens has been the Red Admiral. It's only about an inch across.

The best time to see butterflies at Powell Gardens is during their butterfly festival at the end of July and August.

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