Posted by: oceannah | July 20, 2012

Milk for Monarchs, not just another weed

Milkweed (Asclepias species) of which there are over20 different varieties across the US, is the host plant of the Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus).  We are always pleased that the Monarchs visit and lay their eggs here!  Some years we’ve been able to watch the entire process unfold from eggs to pupal stage and finally butterfly.


The common Milkweed is the singular place a Monarch butterfly will lay her eggs.  This is no shock to those of us who enjoy Milkweed plants.  Either for their tasty cauliflower like buds or the strong cordage its fiber is capable of being turned into or the heavenly scent of the flowers in the summer night air.  Monarch butterflies will however sip nectar from other plants, but the larvae will eat only Milkweed.

Monarchs are well known for their lengthy migrations.  However they are not the only butterflies that do so.  Painted Ladies, Mourning Cloak, and Common Buckeyes as well as others butterflies migrate also.

Most Monarchs have a life cycle of about 6 to 8 weeks.  However, the Monarchs that overwinter/migrate to Mexico and Southern California live for 4 to 5 months.  There are no end of wonderful Monarch sites available for more information, but I’ve found that Monarch Butterly USA is a very nice resource and you can visit them for more detailed information.  Meantime, don’t kill the Milkweed the Monarch larvae are hungry 🙂



  1. There’s something very special about butterflies – great pics

    • Thanks they are like fairies I think…magical.

  2. I just planted milkweed! You will enjoy my upcoming episode (in two weeks) where I visited a Santa Monica citizen scientist who reports data on the Monarch to the U of Minn. She has over 300 milkweed in her yard!

    • Excellent Kaye!I look forward to it.

  3. Hi Oceannah. Thanks for the interesting post. Apparently, for almost the first time, Monarch butterflies are making their way up to my are (Central Alberta). I have seen some? (only one at a time, so I don’t know if it is 1 or more). I always run for the camera but they are always gone by the time I find it. I would love to get a photo. I planted some Asclepias this year (again – my others disappeared) so maybe next year I will have some luck capturing them (on camera!).

    • Thanks MotherB! I hope your milkweeds grow up big and strong 🙂

  4. Thanks for the information, I didn’t even know they migrate.

    • You’re welcome Jesse. I hope you find some lovelies in your area. Thanks for coming by.

  5. All things have such purpose. I see the odd Monarch on the West Coast of Canada – and we do have milkweed – but not in huge numbers like southern Ontario in Point Pelee. The migration is apparently awesome – millions of them.

  6. Hey, Jesse, the numbers of Monarchs have fallen by the hundreds of thousands, so lots of folks are encouraged to plant milkweed, the ONLY plant they lay their eggs on. I learned so much about the Monarch when I recently filmed an upcoming episode of “Late Bloomer.” I read scientists encourage planting of milkweeds native to your area, so it does not interrupt their migration plan. We are in So. Cal., so it’s possible to plant milkweed that blooms all year, but scientists don’t encourage that. See what’s available in your climate zone and native to your area.

  7. […] Part 1 […]

  8. […] Milk for Monarchs, not just another weed ( […]

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