How You Can Help Monarch Butterflies

Monarch Butterfly on White Swamp Milkweed Postcard  Monarch Butterfly on a Swamp Milkweed Flower

Food and habitat for butterflies are dwindling every year.  You can help by planting milkweed for the monarch caterpillars to eat and nectar plants for butterfly nourishment, says Chip Taylor, entomologist at the University of Kansas and director of Monarch Watch.

A Monarch butterfly chrysalis hangs from a milkweed plant in our neighborhood butterfly garden.

A Monarch butterfly chrysalis hangs from a milkweed plant in our neighborhood butterfly garden. Beautiful golden dots adorn this treasure.

In May of 2012, several people in my neighborhood started a butterfly garden in one of our common shrub beds.   We got a late start, and the summer of 2012 was hot and dry, so we didn’t see much butterfly activity.  Fortunately, the winter of 2012-13 was wet, and the perennial plants revived and then thrived.  We  added more plants, which did so well that they need to be divided and moved apart in 2014 — if they survive the winter.  This summer, I counted a lot of black swallowtail caterpillars, as many as 20 at a time on bronze fennel and parsley plants.  I only saw a few monarch butterfly caterpillars, although the garden has four large milkweed plants.  Hopefully, next year the monarchs will find our garden.  I may order some caterpillars, too.  Here’s the link for ordering Monarch caterpillars: Monarch Rearing Kit.

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Click on this link for more information: One Beautiful Thing You Can Do to Help Monarch Butterflies

Monarch Watch Website.  Monarch Watch is a nonprofit education, conservation, and research program based at the University of Kansas that focuses on the monarch butterfly, its habitat, and its spectacular fall migration.

Monarch Watch Shop.

I’ve written many posts about butterflies and Monarch Watch.  Here’s one about the fall open house at Monarch Watch, which includes a lot of photographs: Butterfly School at Monarch Watch Fall 2009 Open House.

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11 Comments

Filed under Butterflies

11 responses to “How You Can Help Monarch Butterflies

  1. They are so delicate and so beautiful..We got a well planted garden in the backyard so I will look into that in the upcoming spring!

  2. My students did write a summary on creating a butterfly garden. So the adult Monarchs and the caterpillars both like milkweed? The takeaway for my students was that you needed to provide plants for adult butterflies and the caterpillars. Also that butterflies love to warm up in the morning, so a garden should have a least six hours of direct sunlight.

    • The monarch caterpillars eat the milkweed leaves and seed pods. The monarch butterflies sip the nectar from the milkweed flowers, although they will drink nectar from any flower.

      Yes, your students are smart! (They have a smart teacher.) You need plants for caterpillars and adults, which aren’t often the same types of plants. Some people are squeamish about caterpillars in their garden, but they need to get over that. You can’t have butterflies without caterpillars.

      The neighborhood butterfly garden has almost ideal conditions, except for limited water, which we have to import if it doesn’t rain.

  3. I love butterflies… and I think of the “butterfly effect”, too… 🙂 my very best and friendly greetings, Mélanie

  4. Did you see Flight Of The Butterflies? It was an IMAX movie, I think. Not sure about availability now, but I think they have their own website. Truly amazing stuff. And amazing photos from you, too! Great ideas and we’ll work on providing some butterfly habitat. They need pit stops on their long journeys.

  5. Catherine, I’m so in love with Monarch butterflies and your post is a wonderful reminder of all the things we can do to encourage them. When we lived in Florida we designed a garden to attract and nurture them – it was so much fun watching them through all their life cycles. ~Terri

  6. So interesting Catherine. We plant something that I believe is called Desert milk weed for them. Of course, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen them around here but still, we’re trying to do our part.

  7. Catherine, we wanted to stop by to wish you a very Happy New Year. We have so enjoyed getting to know you this year and look forward to more of your wonderful posts. 🙂 ~ Terri & James

  8. Today I discovered your fascinating blog.
    A greeting from Madrid.

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