THE MAGIC OF MILKWEED AND THE MONARCH BUTTERFLY

Why would you purposely plant something with the word “weed” in its name? Well if you’ve ever seen the beautiful monarch butterfly (and we know you have), its very existence depends on milkweed.

In fact, the reason monarchs cannot survive without it is that their caterpillars only eat milkweed plants, and monarch butterflies need milkweed to lay their eggs. With shifting land management practices, we have lost much of this plant from the landscape.

Please plant milkweed to support monarch populations, and their incredible migration! Planting milkweed is a great way to help other pollinators too, as they provide valuable nectar resources to a diverse group of bees and butterflies. For a brief how-to flyer on planting and gardening, download Gardening for Monarchs.

Monarchs that survive to ‘adulthood’ will drink the nectar of many flowers in addition to milkweed; in fact they need sources of nectar to nourish them throughout the entire growing season. Include a variety of native flowering species with different bloom times to provide monarchs with the food they need to reproduce in the spring and summer and to migrate in the fall. Offering a wide array of native nectar plants will attract monarchs and many other butterflies and pollinators to your habitat all season long. You can find appropriate native monarch nectar plants for Long Island here at Giordano’s.

Key Habitat Considerations

  • An appropriate habitat can be created in any open space protected from  mowing or pesticide application.
  • Native milkweeds provide food for monarch caterpillars.
  • Native flowers provide food for adult butterflies. A combination of early, middle and late blooming species, with overlap in flowering times, will fuel butterfly breeding and migration and provide beautiful blooms season-long.
  • Insecticides should never be used in or surrounding a pollinator habitat. Limit use of herbicides within and surrounding the habitat only to control invasive or noxious weeds.