ATLANTA (AP) — Researchers are calling on the public to report monarch butterfly sightings in eight southern and Gulf states.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources announced the effort on Thursday.

Scientists want to hear about sightings from Dec. 1 to March 1 in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.

The observations should be reported at

Researchers say the information may help conservation efforts by determining if the butterflies can spend the winter as non-breeding adults in the southern U.S.

Monarch populations have declined significantly over the past two decades.