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Alabamians asked to keep an eye out for monarch butterflies

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Researchers are calling on residents of Alabama and other southern states to report monarch butterfly sightings. The effort targets eight southern and Gulf states through which the insects travel during the fall. The goal is to try to better understand the insect’s migration and wintering behavior. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources announced the effort this week. Scientists want to hear about sightings from December to March in Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. The information may help conservation efforts by determining if the butterflies can spend the winter as non-breeding adults in the southern U.S. It could also shed light on how breeding during the winter may be affecting the butterfly’s annual migration to Mexico. Monarch populations have declined significantly over the past two decades. Last year, the insect became a candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act. Monarchs in the eastern U.S. and Canada generally stream across the South each fall on their way to wintering grounds in central Mexico. They then return in the spring to breed. Researchers say a similar reporting effort last winter led to almost six thousand observations of monarch butterflies in southern and Gulf states.

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