The first Saturday in May is marked National Start Seeing Monarchs Day. What an appropriate national day for this time of the year! Have you seen any monarch butterflies in your yard this year? I’ve been seeing them in my garden for a few weeks
This day was chosen to raise people’s awareness of the butterfly so that it does not end up on the endangered species list.
Facts about the Monarch Butterfly
- This beautiful yellow and black butterfly is a milkweed butterfly.
- The butterflies range somewhere around 3-4 inches in size.
- Monarch butterflies migrate to warmer climates in the fall and return again in the spring. They can travel up to 250 miles in one day.
- The population of monarch butterflies is on a sharp decline in the last 20 years. Some sites say that it could be as much as 90%!
- Milkweed is necessary for the survival of the monarch butterfly. Milkweed is a perennial flowering plant that is crucial to the butterflies’ survival. It provides nectar and is the only plant where a monarch will lay their eggs.
- Adult Monarchs like many nectar plants, but their caterpillars will only eat milkweed.
- Monarch caterpillars have a big appetite. They can consume and entire milkweed leaf in less than five minutes.
- Eggs laid by monarchs become baby caterpillars in about four days. They spend the next few weeks eating and growing until they attach to branches and form into a chrysalis. About 10 days later a butterfly emerges and takes off looking for more milkweed spots to feed.
Nectar Plants that are attractive to Adult Monarch Butterflies
While monarch caterpillars need milkweed to survive, adult Monarchs are attracted to several nectar plants: Plant some of these in your yard to attract them.
- Siberian Wallflower
- Buddleia (butterfly bush)
- And of course Milkweed!
Monarch Butterfly Way Stations
Think about planting a way station to attract Monarchs. Ideally a way station should be at least 100 feet, but you can help even if you do it in a smaller way. If you have a herb or vegetable garden add some of the above plants nearby. Got an ugly fence line that needs covering? Plant milkweed seeds right along the line. It will cover the fence and attract butterflies at the same time. Along the side of a garden shed is also a good place for a way station.
In addition to nectar, Monarch butterflies also need other forms of moisture. A large area of water is risky for them, but a birdbath, if it is not too deep is a great place to allow them some extra water. Adding some rocks in the birdbath will let them land safely.
How to observe National Start Seeing Monarchs Day.
There are lots of things that you can do to observe this day. Planting a variety of milkweed plants in your yard is one good way, since Monarchs love these plants and seek them out. Keep pesticides away from these plants so that they will be a safe haven for the butterflies.
And while you are at it, think about using less pesticides in general. There are loads of alternatives that are more organic and natural to keep pests and weeds out of a garden without resorting to something that damages our environment in such a big way.
Spreading the word to your friends with this tweet is a great way to take part in the day. How to slow down the Monarch Butterfly Decline #startseeingmonarchsday #♥monarchs Click To Tweet
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