Keep Butterflies Happy: Plant Them an Oasis!
Keep Butterflies Happy:
Plant Them an Oasis!
Yes, you can help save the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), the black-veined orange migratory butterfly that winters in Mexico and travels all the way to Canada in the summer, by planting milkweeds (Asclepias spp.). Its population has been declining for at least 50 years and if the population keeps dropping at this rate, within a generation this emblematic butterfly will no longer grace our fields and gardens. Since milkweeds are the only plants monarch butterfly caterpillars can eat, the media have run with that concept, making the solution seem so simple: plant a milkweed, save a butterfly. What could be easier?
But that’s not enough: only monarch butterfly caterpillars feed exclusively on milkweed plants. The adults feed on the nectar of a wide range of flowers and need flowers in bloom throughout the summer, yet milkweeds finish blooming in July. If we planted only milkweeds, the monarchs would starve long before they made it back to Mexico!