'Monarch Massacre' kills hundreds of butterflies after overnight mosquito spraying in Fargo area

Dead Monarch Butterflies
Dead monarch butterflies were found across the Fargo area after aerial spraying in August 2020 to control mosquitoes. WDAY photo
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FARGO — People out on their morning walks in the metro area on Thursday stumbled upon a "monarch massacre."

Dead butterflies have been found all over town after aerial spraying overnight for mosquitoes.

Curt Flaten was not happy — he walked around his yard and neighborhood finding monarch after monarch dead.


"They are all over," Flaten says.

Matt Paulson was out delivering packages Thursday in southwest Fargo when he couldn't believe what he was seeing. Some neighborhoods had piles of them.

"I saw a couple of kids piling them up, probably 25 monarchs. In that first neighborhood in Deer Creek, I saw at least 300," says Paulson.

What frustrates a lot of the monarch butterfly fans is that the butterflies were just beginning their migration.

"I went for a walk throughout the neighborhood and they were all over the sidewalks and the streets," says Andrea Samari.

Cass County Vector Control had phones ringing off the hook, but they did last week, too, when the mosquito hatch was at a record level.

"A lot of calls and complaints, it was both sides of the coin. Twenty-four hours ago, the voicemail was full of hatred and anger we were not doing enough," says Cass County Vector Control Ben Prather.

Social media exploded with pictures and comments about the dead butterflies. People are glad the mosquitoes took a hit, but not happy about the cost.



"There are some insects that are dead. Absolutely no change in the protocol and the specs were done to perfection. Same chemical, same product, same airplane, same process and procedure we have used in 10 years," Prather says.

On Thursday afternoon, officials with Cass County Vector Control issued a statement saying spraying was absolutely necessary because our region has a five-year-high mosquito trap count and West Nile has been detected in Grand Forks and Wahpeton.

Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia, Juarez,Mexico and the Middle East. He is an multiple Emmy and national Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

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