CHESTERFIELD, Mo. – The western monarch butterfly has been struggling, but the population is showing signs of improvement.

“Every year, a dedicated group of citizen scientists go out and hand count monarch butterfly populations that are there, mostly in southern California,” said Tad Yankoski, the senior entomologist at the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House in Chesterfield, Missouri.

After a dangerous drop in the count, the population of western monarch butterflies wintering in western states has rebounded for a second year in a row.

“Two years ago, there were only about two thousand overwintering monarch butterflies left. Last year, that number increased to about a quarter million. This year, it’s up to over three hundred fifty thousand monarch butterflies,” Yankoski said.

That the highest number in the last six years. It is a sign that conservation efforts are working, but the population of western monarchs is still well below what it used to be.

“Ten years ago, that number could have been a million or higher, so there is still a lot of room for improvement,” Yankoski said.

Meanwhile, in Missouri and Illinois, we can help eastern monarchs and other butterflies by being more pollinator-friendly in our gardening and planning.

“By increasing your native plants in your front yard or your backyard or garden, reducing the use of pesticides,” Yankoski said. “Working with your government to plant more wildflowers along highways, things like that are going to help all native insects, not just the monarch butterfly.”