Monarch Butterflies have begun to return to our gardens again this year. Monarchs require Milkweed for their caterpillars. As a matter of fact, Monarch caterpillars can only feed on Milkweeds and nothing else. The adult Butterflies, however, need nectar all summer long.
According to National Geographic, Fewer monarch butterflies are crossing North America to winter in Mexico, and the biggest culprit seems to be the disappearance of milkweed in the United States. The trend is particularly troubling because monarchs have long been considered both an indicator of our ecological health and a representative of pollinator populations.
When planting for Monarchs, mix Milkweed with lots of flowering nectar plants (as well as grasses) that will bloom from early in the summer (when Monarchs first arrive) through the fall.
This will have several advantages including the following:
- Provide nectar for the Monarchs, along with many butterflies and pollinators, when the Milkweed are not flowering. Each species of Milkweed only flowers for about a month. The adult Monarchs need nectar from the time they arrive until they leave.
- Create a sustainable ecosystem in your home garden.
- Support not only the struggling Monarch, but many species of Butterflies, Beetles, Moths, Birds, Snakes, Turtles, and Mammals…etc.
- Create a beautiful butterfly garden for your enjoyment.
What kind of Milkweed should you plant? Plant Milkweeds native to your area and adapted to your soil and sun conditions. Monarchs can use ALL of them. There are about 75 species of Milkweed found in North America. There are a lot to choose from. You can find out what species are native to your area at the Biota of North America Program (http://bonap.net/NAPA/TaxonMaps/Genus/County/Asclepias ).
Email KW Landscaping for more information and to inquire about integrating monarch attracting milkweed into your summer garden.