The Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) is an remarkable insect, which is known for its amazing migratory habits in addition to being admired because of its great beauty.
But regrettably the Monarch’s numbers have been falling fast because of combination of climate change, habitat destruction, the use of pesticides, and the absence of foodplants for its caterpillars, which could only eat species at the Milkweed family (Asclepiadaceae). But this implies that gardeners in almost any state where Monarchs live can help preserve the species by developing these plants that are attractive in their gardens.
Monarch’s migrate all the way from Mexico and the Southern States of North America up as far as Canada and then replicate this in a long return journey when they fly south to overwinter.
Female Monarchs do not care what the type is at least as long as it is an Asclepias it’ll do fine as someplace to put its eggs and feed its striped caterpillars.
Milkweed will grow well in huge flowerpots or in massive windowboxes if you’ve got no access to a suitable garden, and, of course, that the foodplant could be grown in containers on a roof-garden or balcony.
Some of those sites also provide small ready-germinated plants, and many others have a vast array of Milkweed species to select from. There are even websites that supply seeds at no cost provided that you send a SASE.
Monarch caterpillars are extremely greedy and eat a whole lot of leaves. They will even have the flowers and seed pods, although fortunately the crops will often sprout again. The more Milkweed plants you grow the more caterpillars you’ll have the ability to support.
To watch the phases of the Monarch’s lifecycle is a superb experience as you find the striped striped caterpillars eventually become jade-green chrysalises before their final transformation to the glorious winged adult. Before they hatch another true miracle happens because the black and red of the newly-formed wings get stronger and stronger in color and can be seen clearly through the transparent wing instances of the chrysalis.
In case you have loads of flowers growing the odds are that the adult Monarchs will stay a little while too. If they do, it is as if they’re saying thank you!