MACKINAC ISLAND (WWJ/AP) – Mackinac Island, a place known for fudge and horses, is trying to help the struggling monarch butterfly.

Thousands of milkweed seeds have been planted at the end of the island’s airport runway. The goal is to grow milkweed plants, which monarch butterflies use to lay eggs.

The monarch is one of a few migratory butterflies. It travels up to 4,000 miles between Mexico and Canada and the United States every fall. The butterflies that return to Michigan are the offspring of monarchs that laid eggs in Texas and Oklahoma before dying off. Monarchs only lay eggs on the wild milkweed plant, which  is an important source of food for butterfly larvae.

Natural historian Jeff Dykehouse says he’s seen clouds of monarchs flying south through the Straits of Mackinac at the tip of the Lower Peninsula.

Monarchs, which are usually spotted around the state in May and June, play an important role in pollinating plants.

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