Photos above (2013):
Monarch butterflies in a
near Lake Ontario,
feasting on the flowers.
Photos above (2017):
Monarch butterflies (and bees : ) in same
near Lake Ontario,
plants and other flowers.
few years ago, I also enjoyed the
movie, Flight of the Butterflies www.flightofthebutterflies.com.
To learn more, visit:
Create a Monarch Waystation,
Create a Butterfly Garden : )
Butterflies are awe-inspiring members of our earth family. Many Monarch butterflies take part in an amazing migration, flying about 3000 miles (4800 kilometers) from forests in Mexico to northern places like this Great Lakes region, and then back again, over at least three generations. In this remarkable passage, they may travel about 50-100 miles (80-160 km) a day, or even 265 miles (426 km) in a single day! So remarkable! : ) It may take two months or more, to complete their incredible journey, one-way.
Starting in September and October, eastern / northeastern populations of Monarchs migrate from Canada (southern regions) and the US, to overwintering sites in central Mexico, arriving around November. They begin a return trip north in March, arriving at their final destination around July. No individual butterfly completes this entire round trip. Female monarchs lay eggs for the next generation during the northward migration, and at least 3-4 generations are involved in this annual cycle.
Similarly, western populations of Monarch butterflies migrate annually between regions west of the Rocky Mountains, including Canada, to overwintering sites on the coast of California. Monarchs also perform small distance migrations in Australia and New Zealand. There are also some Monarch populations, in Florida and the Caribbean for example, that do not migrate. Like all of nature, Monarch butterflies adapt and change, in response to Mother Earth and their environments. They are truly remarkable, and wonderful messengers for humans, reflecting the ability to accept change, and symbolizing metamorphosis, balance and grace.
To lovingly support our Monarch family (and bees and more : ), we can create a Butterfly Garden, that includes:
- milkweeds for the larvae,
- nectar plants for the adults, and
- adequate vegetation to provide shelter for the larvae, pupae and adults.
Monarch butterflies depend on milkweed to survive, as these are the plants on which they lay their eggs and the only food source for the caterpillars. Without milkweed, Monarchs are not able to produce the successive spring and summer generations that result in their amazing fall migrations.
Butterfly gardens can be of any size – a window box, part of an existing garden, or a large expanse of natural land (yippee! : ).
Simple steps to creating a Butterfly Garden:
STEP 1: Where to Plant
Considerations include available sunlight, level of foot traffic and vulnerability. If planting from seeds, keep in mind it takes 4-6 weeks for seeds to germinate and for seedlings to be ready for transplanting. An area that receives 6 hrs of sun per day is ideal. Milkweeds and nectar plants do best in relatively light (low-clay) soils, with good drainage.
STEP 2: What to put in your Garden
It’s best to plant native species. The Monarch butterfly will need plants at all four stages of its life cycle: the egg and larvae stage need species of milkweed, while adults feed on flowers that are fragrant, rich in nectar, and large enough for the butterfly to land on.
Favourite flowers are mainly from the sunflower and daisy family of plants. But any yellow, pink, orange or purple nectar-producing flower will do. It's ideal to have at least 10 milkweed plants, made up of two or more milkweed species. However, a large number of milkweed plants (more than 10) of one species is also ideal.
STEP 3: Milkweed Seeds or Plants
If it's early in the season, you can buy milkweed seeds from gardening catalogs, nurseries, or online. You may want to use a combination of seeds and plants. If you're starting with milkweed plants, receive them when it's time to put them in the garden. If you're starting from milkweed seeds (indoors), seedlings will be ready to transplant outdoors after 4 to 6 weeks.
It’s important to plant the right kind of Milkweed. Learn which kind is right for your area here. In Southern Canada, you may choose: Common Milkweed, Swamp Milkweed, Butterfly Milkweed and Poke Milkweed.
STEP 4: Get Planting : )
Prepare the soil. Follow natural/organic, permaculture gardening practices. Plant seedlings. You may apply mulch to prevent soil erosion, maintain soil moisture and slow weed growth. Maintain your butterfly garden with watering and weeding, as needed.
STEP 5: Enjoy seeing beautiful Monarchs, other butterflies, and bees in your Butterfly Garden! : )