Monarchs and Milkweed

Monarch butterflies need our help! Their populations are shrinking. Biologists point to shrinking butterfly habitat. Monarchs require a specific host plant in order for them to complete their life cycle. What is this significant plant? Milkweed. Milkweed serves a critical role in the monarch’s life cycle.


Monarch butterflies breed in spring and summer during their migration from their wintering grounds in Mexico and Southern California to the northern tier of states and even to Canada. The females deposit eggs on the leaves of milkweed because Monarch caterpillars eat milkweed leaves to grow through the caterpillar stage.

Milkweed commonly thrived in the ditches and undisturbed prairies in the Great Plains states.  More and more farming acres are taken out of pasture land and cultivated for row crops. Chemical sprays kill broadleaf plants in the ditches.  The formerly plentiful milkweed plants are victims of the colossal agriculture industry in the Heartland of America.

Plant milkweed in your garden. The plants are tall and handsome, and the blooms smell a lot like lilacs. I enjoy the milkweed flower’s scent for weeks during the summer months because it flowers continuously as young plants emerge and produce blooms throughout the summer.  And a bonus!  You likely will see Monarch butterflies floating among the milkweed plants.

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