Due to the monarch butterfly’s multi-generational migration process, they are always on the move and require a consistent habitat that is dispersed along their migration path. Further complicating their migration challenges is the requirement of having the the right plants at the right time for each stage of their lifecycle. Female monarchs will only lay their eggs on milkweed plants; therefore, when the females are ready to lay their eggs, they require milkweed plants. The caterpillars eat the milkweed plants’ leaves until it’s ready to pupate and soon after emerge as an adult monarch.
Adult monarch butterflies need nectar-rich flowers for fuel to help them continue with the second generation in their migration. Therefore providing a diversity of native wildflowers in addition to milkweed is also key for monarch survival. The best milkweed and wildflower species to use when creating monarch habitat are plant species native to your location. Not only will the native species help the monarch, but they will also provide ecosystem services to other pollinators and wildlife in your area. Asters, goldenrod, butterfly bush, Joe-Pye weed, cardinal flower, purple coneflower, salvia, bergamot, blazing star and rattlesnake master are a good place to start.
In Missouri, native milkweed species include but are not limited to: Swamp (Marsh) Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), Prairie (Sullivant’s) Milkweed (A. sullivantii), Aquatic Milkweed (A. perennis), Common Milkweed (A. syriaca), and Tall Green Milkweed (A. viridis). Some Missouri native wildflower plant species are asters, goldenrod, butterfly bush, Joe-Pye weed, lantana, cardinal flower, purple coneflower, salvia, bergamot, blazing star and rattlesnake master. We have a Seed Vendor List coming soon that will assist in locating a supplier of native milkweed and wildflowers here in Missouri.
For information on creating habitat around your home or community, check out these links: