How to Save Monarch Butterflies
You can help protect the declining monarch butterfly population by planting food for them in your yard. Monarch butterflies need two food sources to complete their life cycle. One for caterpillars and one for adults.
Food For Caterpillars
Monarch caterpillars are fussy eaters. Adults lay eggs only on milkweed because that's the only plant the caterpillars will eat. No milkweed, no monarchs. Although there are over 100 species of milkweed, some of the most widely adapted and readily available include common milkweed, swamp milkweed, and butterfly milkweed. Seeds and plants can be found at good garden centers.
Food For Adults The second food monarchs need is a nectar source for the adults. Monarch adults will feed on milkweed flowers and many other types of nectar rich flowers. Almost any plant that is labeled as good for butterflies is also good for monarch adults. Plants in the sunflower family, which includes Asters, Black-eyed Susans, Coneflowers, and Zinnias are particularly nectar-rich. Some other great nectar rich flowers include Lantana, Pentas, Impatiens, Columbine, and Butterfly Bush. Plant a diverse mix of blooming plants to give a continuous supply of fresh flowers for the butterflies...and yourself!
Butterflies also need a landing pad to drink and they love mud puddles. Create a few shallow divots in bare soil and keep them moist, so butterflies can sip water and get much-needed minerals from the soil. Plant trees and shrubs where butterflies can roost at night. Butterflies can't fly when they're cold, so place large, flat rocks in locations that receive morning sun to give them a place to warm up. That's all there is to it! If everyone does a little something in their yard we can save the Monarch butterfly.