Milkweed Matters to Monarchs

Rare Find at the H. Olive Day Butterfly Garden
It is not often that you find a Monarch chrysalis in the wild, but that is exactly what Stephanie Markham spotted while gardening at our ACE butterfly garden. Butterflies have four stages of life: egg, larva (the caterpillar stage), pupa (the chrysalis phase in a butterfly’s development), and adult. According to Madeline Champagne, past president of the Mass. Butterfly Club, a female Monarch laid her egg on a milkweed leaf probably in late May at the H. Olive Day Butterfly Garden. The egg hatched into baby caterpillars, called the larvae, and they fed on our common milkweed leaves in order to grow. After about two weeks, a fully-grown caterpillar found a place on our honeysuckle vine to attach itself. It then started the process of metamorphosis and transformed itself into a chrysalis.  Madeline told us it is not a common occurrence to find a chrysalis in the wild. She has only found two in the past 25+ years, one at Stony Brook and one at Mass Audubon’s Allen’s Pond in Westport.

The chrysalis phase lasts about ten days. Within the chrysalis the old body parts of the caterpillar undergo a transformation to become an adult butterfly. We did not see it emerge, but found the empty chrysalis (shown above). The adult Monarch flew away and will feed on flowers for about two to six weeks. The female will then die after laying eggs for next generation. We hope she will return to our butterfly garden. We have plenty of milkweed ready for her to laid her eggs on.

Government Pledges Millions To Save Monarch Butterfly

Climate Change Threatens Monarch Butterfly Migration, Eco-Tourism

A new government program will fund regrowing and building habitats for monarch butterflies, a species that is in jeopardy. Photographer: Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg via Getty Images | Bloomberg via Getty Images

Saving the Monarch Butterfly
What gardeners can do to help
by Suzanne DeJohn


A monarch butterfly gets nectar from a Mexican sunflower. Photo by Suzanne DeJohn.

INCREDIBLE. That’s the word that comes to mind when I think about the monarch butterfly. An insect with a body the size and weight of a paper clip can migrate 1,500 miles or more. Not once, but twice in its lifetime. First in autumn, when it flies to a specific overwintering site in Mexico — a trip it has never taken before. And again in spring, when it returns north to reproduce. Just incredible. These miraculous creatures are in trouble. Though monarch populations have been declining during the past decade, they’ve seen sharp declines in the last few years. Scientists now believe this is a long-term trend, rather than a short-term phenomenon caused by specific weather events, such as drought or hurricanes. Read full Article. Posted 3-16-2014.

 Must Read Articles

Monarch Butterfly Genes Reveal Key to Long-Distance Flying

Monarch Guardian Program

Raising Monarchs

How to Help Monarch butterflies

Useful Websites

Monarch Butterfly, Journey North 
This website is packed with information and resources about the Monarch Butterfly including Monarch sightings so far this year. Also contains great Resources for Kids and Teachers and Resources by Season.

the Butterflies of Massachusetts 

Mass Audubon Butterfly Species Atlas Accounts

Massachusetts Butterfly Club

Monarch Wayside Station Program
Creating a Monarch Wayside Station

North American Butterfly Association
We would encourage people to enter their butterfly sightings on this website. The sightings you enter will help provide the North American Butterfly Association with valuable information on butterfly distribution, abundance and conservation. This website also provides a location where you can keep track of all your butterfly sightings and retrieve them at any time.

Raising Butterflies

Gardens with Wings

How to Build your Own Butterfly Garden