CAMBRIDGE -- The Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory says Canada's butterfly population is declining.

Conservatory naturalist Andalyne Tofflemire says it’s unknown exactly how many butterflies exist, but it's well known in the science community that certain breeds of the species need help.

“Insects everywhere, they form the foundation of life on earth as we know it,” she said.

As human populations grow, butterfly habitats shrink.

Pesticides, global warming and other evolutionary aspects threaten their future.

In Ontario, there are a few insects on the endangered list.

Tofflemire notes the Mottles Duskywing as one of them. It is a brown lesser known butterfly which has been most commonly spotted in the GTA.

Among other at-risk insects listed by the province is the Monarch.

“The Monarch is one of the most well-known. Although it isn't technically endangered, as of now, it's still considered special concern. Populations are definitely in decline.”

Tofflemire suggests gardening is the easiest and best way for the general public to help butterflies.

“They’re populations depend on the quantity and quality of nectar sources and host plants here in Ontario every summer," she said.

She suggests that if everyone were to dedicate a small corner of their backyard to pollinator plants, the insect world would benefit.

According to the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory, these are some of the plants that encourage the insects, including butterflies to pollinate.

  • Purple Salvia
  • Sunflowers
  • Rock Cress
  • Sedum
  • Milkweed
  • Lilacs

Brantford resident Erica Walker recently founded a growing Facebook group called “Raising Butterflies In Brant County + Surrounding Areas In Canada.”

The online community share tips and tricks. Many of the posts are regarding different plant types that will help attract the species.

Walker, has been raising her own butterflies at home since November, including Monarchs.

“I released five monarchs successfully and I raised two Eastern Black Swallow tails, a male and a female," Walker said.

She says she was surprised by how many leaves the caterpillar could eat. Adding, the hobby of raising butterflies is not expensive. She says she bought her butterfly habitat on Amazon.

“The process takes around 30 days.”

Walker says she enjoys the process. Mentioning that not only does it help with population numbers, but the encouragement of new life, brought her comfort after the recent death of her grandfather.