Monarch butterflies feed exclusively on milkweed, making the relationship between monarchs and these plants very special. As a host plant, milkweed is critical to the monarch’s survival. In the spring months, monarchs migrate from their Northern overwintering sites to the US and Southern Canada in search of milkweed to lay their eggs and feed their larvae. Without milkweed, the butterflies cannot complete their life cycle, causing a decline in their numbers. An excellent way to support monarch butterfly populations is to restore their breeding grounds by planting local, native species of milkweed.
Interested in learning more about the monarch butterfly life cycle, migration patterns, conservation efforts, and butterfly gardening in general? Here are a few titles to get you started:
100 Plants to Feed the Monarch: Create a Healthy Habitat to Sustain North America’s Most Beloved Butterfly by Eric Lee-Mader (2021) - Learn key facts about monarch butterfly life cycles, habits, and migration patterns and explore detailed advice on designing landscapes to attract and protect them.
Bicycling with Butterflies: My 10,201-mile Journey Following the Monarch Migration by Sara Dykman (2021) - Join the author, a nature researcher and educator, on her nearly nine month journey following the annual migration of monarch butterflies by bicycle.
The Language of Butterflies: How Thieves, Hoarders, Scientists, and Other Obsessives Unlocked the Secrets of the World’s Favorite Insect by Wendy Williams (2020) - In this title, Williams reviews the history of butterfly science and probes the relationship between humans and these beautiful insects in order to better understand why they fascinate us.
National Wildlife Federation: Attracting Birds, Butterflies and Other Backyard Wildlife by David Mizejewski (2019) - Learn how to create an ecosystem that invites and supports butterflies and other wildlife in your own backyard.
Gardening for Butterflies: How You Can Attract and Protect Beautiful, Beneficial Insects by Scott Hoffman Black (2016) - In this title, Black introduces readers to a variety of butterflies and gives suggestions on how to create a habitat in which they can thrive.
A Swift Guide to Butterflies of North America by Jeffrey Glassberg (2017) - This comprehensive photographic field guide is a great resource for readers seeking assistance with butterfly identification.
Be sure to also explore our Hoopla collection for more titles about monarch butterflies.
UPCOMING PROGRAMS ABOUT MONARCH BUTTERFLIES:
Land Lovers Series: Milkweed for Monarchs
Mary Lincoln of Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens will share her expertise on monarch butterflies and take questions from the audience. This program is being held in partnership with Keep Henrico Beautiful.
Richmond Environmental Film Festival: The Guardians
Join us for a community screening of the visually stunning documentary, The Guardians (2018, NR, 70 min.). The Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Donaciano Ojeda, Mexico, serves as a backdrop for the plight of both the butterflies and the local farmers whose livelihoods depend upon the forest they are trying to save.
The film will be preceded by a brief presentation by Linda McBride from the Butterfly Society of Virginia, and followed by a group discussion of the contents of the film.
For more information on programs, visit our events calendar.