In one El Reno, Oklahoma neighborhood, Monarchs are still honored guests

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EL RENO, OKLAHOMA -- She remembers them filling the skies and dripping from the trees.

"When I was younger they were so thick," says Master Gardener Janet Horner. "You'd see them flying across the road. I haven't seen that in decades."

Horner grew up watching Monarchs as they flew north in March and south in October.

There was s time when she sprayed to keep insects and caterpillars away but over the past few years she's migrated herself to serve Monarchs now by raising them in her front room.

Horner collects eggs which turn to caterpillars, then to butterflies.

She tags each one before releasing them to a hopeful destiny.

"The Monarch we tagged," she explains, "her great-granddaughter will be coming back this time next year."

"I'm a fanatic," she laughs. "I'm a crazy butterfly lady."

Her garden out back doesn't grow exotic species any longer.

Everything here is native and potential food for pollinating insects.

"That's what we're hoping," she says. "To make a difference with pollinator gardens.

Between weather fronts, as north winds gather, the remaining Monarchs in central Oklahoma rest up for the last 1,200 mile trip south.

Horner says, "The generation that's flying now from Canada to Mexico, that's called the super generation. It's the fourth generation."

A few blocks from Janet's house a fellow gardener, Anne Zavy, helps gather up and tag the stragglers.

A day earlier there were twice this many.

A generations a go they flew through here by the millions, tinting the skies with fluttering orange wings.

These are the fraction left, still amazing, still beautiful, and with some devoted friends now serving as best they can to make the Monarch great again.

Biologists who study them say the population of Monarch butterflies is approximately 10 percent of their numbers in the early 20th Century.

Horner is a member of Okies for Monarchs, Monarch Watch, and Journey North.

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