The Monarch (Danaus Plexippus) is one of our most beautiful butterflies. They are colorful, graceful, one of our major pollinators and a lovely sight to see. The Monarch chrysalis is a beautiful green and gold pod. Have you noticed fewer cruising in your yard and garden than in past years? At one time they could be counted in the billions but currently the count is more like a few hundred thousand that migrate in the fall every year to Mexico then return in the spring in an adventure that is very hazardous. The Center for Food Safety (centerforfoodsafety.org) monitors the Monarch and has stated that it is in danger of extinction.
Why do we care about Monarch Butterflies? We care about all insect pollinators because without them we would not have the fruits, vegetables and nuts, etc that we need to survive and Monarchs make up a large percentage of that group.
What can you do to help? The Monarchs depend specifically on Milkweed plants for laying eggs and sustaining the caterpillars when they hatch. It is the only plant they will eat so without milkweeds there would be no Monarchs. Current farming methods and the desire for great expanses of residential lawns have eliminated huge areas where milkweeds can grow. But you can help by planting milkweed in your perennial flower beds and any other space you have available. The Common milkweed, Swamp milkweed and Butterfly milkweed are hardy in our area and equally good for Monarch food and nectar. The adult Monarchs collect nectar from many plants and trees so maintaining a variety of blooming perennials in your yard and garden is also helpful.
For addional information about the Monarch Butterfly, check the following websites:
How to raise monarch butterflies : a step-by-step guide for kids / Carol Pasternak,
The monarch butterfly / by Judith Pinkerton Josephson ; edited by Judy Lockwood