Milkweed and the Monarch - Creating the Ultimate Butterfly Habitat
Milkweed and the Monarch’s
The iconic black and orange Monarch butterfly is probably the most familiar butterfly across all North/South America; the monarch is considered an iconic pollinator, and of course, we can’t forget about the pure beauty that these butterflies bring into our lives. Well, the good news is that we don’t need to go chasing butterflies because adding certain plants in your garden will definitely attract these beautiful creatures right to you – we offer everything you need to create the perfect butterfly habitat here at Ricardo’s Nursery in Long Beach!
The Monarch caterpillar has only ONE food source – the milkweed plant. Unlike the sound of its name, it is not a weed. It’s a beautiful and colorful spray of orange, yellow, red, and white flowers. Milkweed contains a toxin in their milky sap that the Monarch caterpillar consumes as it munches through the leaves. On average, the hungry caterpillars will consume 20+ leaves from the milkweed plant before they begin metamorphosis (the process of changing from caterpillar to butterfly). A predator that does decide to eat a Monarch will likely never do that
again after eating their toxin filled body.
As a perennial, the Milkweed plant will come back every year, even through harsh winter conditions. Milkweed is typically the preferred host plant for the monarch butterfly. However, after becoming a butterfly, the monarch has a much more varied diet. It starts out extracting the nectar from the milkweed flowers, but butterflies consume nectar from many different plants including annuals or perennials like: coneflowers, impatiens, marigolds, sunflowers, or chrysanthemums, daisies, sedum and yarrow. Wildflowers like bergamots or horsemints, black-eyed Susan, blazing stars, and butterfly flower are all great!
Adult monarch butterflies even like to feed from fruits like banana, oranges and watermelon. However, the milkweed plant is the only plant that the Monarch butterflies will lay their eggs as they migrate across North and South America waiting for the next generation of Monarchs to take their place. The milkweed plant provides all the nourishment to transform the Monarch caterpillar into the adult butterfly. But these plants are rapidly disappearing, due to the loss of habitat stemming from land development and the widespread spraying of weed killer on the fields where they live. So, let’s work together to save the butterfly habitat – It’s easy to grow your own Milkweed!
Visit us at 6850 Atlantic Ave. LB to pick up your own!