The northward spring migration of Monarch Butterflies from their wintering grounds in Mexico is well underway. By this time they are crossing Texas and Florida and hopefully moving into the lower Midwest.
In 2013 the Monarch population was reported to have declined to it’s lowest level, ever. Increasing losses in both Mexico and the US has put the survival of Monarch Butterfly in a perilous position. The American Midwest is a critical feeding and breeding ground in the life cycle of Monarchs, and the rapid expansion of farmland – more than 25 million acres since 2007 – has eaten away at the habitat and native plants that support them. The over-winter habitat in the forests of Mexico are also disappearing:
What Can We Do?
1. Plant Asclepias (Milkweed) plants. Plants of the Asclepias genus, such as Milkweed and Butterflyweed, are the only plants on which Monarchs lay their eggs, as a host plant for their caterpillar stage. Asclepias (Milkweed) Plants:
Butterflyweed for Clay
2. Provide Nectaring Plants. Monarchs need nectar during their adult phase. Provide enough nectar sources so that you have blooms throughout the season, and each generation of monarchs has a food source. Fall-blooming asters fuel their fall migration to Mexico. Here’s a list of some favorite nectaring plants for Monarchs. Or, take a look at our Pre-planned Monarch Habitat Gardens…
New England Aster
Pale Purple Coneflower
Joe Pye Weed
Tall Joe Pye Weed
Queen of the Prairie
Wild Blue Phlox
3. Build Awareness through Certification Programs. Many good Monarch programs exist that help build awareness, spread the word, share information and educate the public about the decline of the Monarchs.
- MONARCH WATCH – Monarch Waystations - http://www.monarchwatch.org/waystations/download.html
- WILD ONES – Wild for Monarch programs
Offers a Butterfly Garden Recognition program to it’s members: http://www.wildones.org/learn/wild-for-monarchs/butterfly-garden-recognition/
As well as a educational and presentation materials available to the public: http://www.wildones.org/learn/wild-for-monarchs/what-wild-ones-is-doing-about-it/
- NORTH AMERICAN BUTTERFLY ASSOCIATION – http://nababutterfly.com/ – Not just for Monarchs… Butterfly garden certification
4. Learn More, Raise Monarchs, Get Involved: Additional great resources, educational materials, tracking and research, and citizen science.
- MONARCH LAB – http://www.monarchlab.org/Default.aspx
- MONARCH JOINT VENTURE – Lists a host of organizations across the country that conduct monarch research. http://monarchjointventure.org/get-involved/study-monarchs-citizen-science-opportunities/
- FLIGHT OF THE BUTTERFLIES – An educational film and sponsor information http://www.flightofthebutterflies.com/home/
- MILK THE WEED – “Plant milkweed, the gateway drug to a whole new world of using native plants in your landscape…” – http://milktheweed.blogspot.com/
- BUTTERFLIES AND MOTHS OF NORTH AMERICA – http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org – A good resource for all butterfly and moth photos/identification, with good info about larval phases and host plant information, too.
- GARDENS WITH WINGS – http://www.gardenswithwings.org