Monarch butterfly over a flower

Butterfly Flowers Irresistible to Monarchs

In *All, Environmental Stewardship by AgIsAmerica

Monarch butterflies are known for their long migration distances: they can travel over 5,000 miles in a year and fly more than 25 miles in a single day. Sadly, their population has declined by 80% over the past 20 years. This has been caused by a variety of factors, including the loss of overwintering sites in Mexico, the overuse of herbicides, and the loss of breeding habitats due to the expansion of agriculture.

As a gardener, you can support the restoration of monarchs by planting butterfly-friendly plants. These vary depending on where you are in the United States, but the University of North Dakota and Mississippi State University have some suggestions:

  • Milkweed: If you live in North Dakota, you should know these plants are essential to monarchs. As NDSU explains, “They lay eggs in milkweed, eat milkweed as caterpillars for its nourishment and protective toxins, and consume milkweed nectar as butterflies”.
  • Pentas: These annual, colorful plants act like a magnet for butterflies and hummingbirds due to the nectar in their flowers. “These plants are tolerant to the hot and humid summers of Mississippi”, as this article by Mississippi State University explains.
  • Zinnias: These flowers are native to scrub and dry grassland in an area stretching from the Southwestern United States to South America, and their taller varieties will attract large butterflies, including monarchs.
  • White Snake Root: This plant is native to the eastern and central regions of the United States, and is one of the few butterfly garden plants to flower in part-shade during early fall. This is important, because it basically blooms at a time when summer nectar sources are decreasing but butterflies might still be in the area.

For this Garden Month, don’t just plant some flowers: host a royal court in your own backyard. You’ll be rewarded with both a beautiful spectacle all spring long, and the knowledge that you’ve done your part to help the monarchs of America make it through another season.

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