Monarch Butterflies and Milkweed

30 Oct 2017

One of the wonders of the world is the yearly arrival of thousands of Monarch butterflies to their overwintering grounds in Mexico. Their arrival coincides with the Mexican holiday, Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead on November 2. The locals await the arrival of the monarchs as the returning souls of their ancestors. All of the butterflies are making this long migration from as far north as Canada for the first and only time. That is the wonder... how do they find their way with no guides.

As wondrous as the monarch butterfly is; this migration is made possible by the northerly spread of their larval host plant, milkweeds. Since the end of the ice age milkweeds spread that has lead this tropical butterfly’s range to expand.  Many different species of milkweed grow in North America and they are the only plants that this butterfly species lay eggs on and their caterpillars can eat. 

In south Florida we have mostly Monarch Butterflies that live here year round. But a few migratory Monarch clusters have in the past been spotted on the causeway. In the North Florida Panhandle migratory monarchs do pass through on their way to central Mexico. The St. Marks National Wildlife Festival is celebrating its 29th Monarch Butterfly Festival on October 28. I hope the stars of the show show up!

The Florida Native Plant society members have recently made it a mission to grow and make more Florida native milkweeds available for sale.  The SCCF Native Landscapes and Garden Center has two Native milkweed species for sale, Rose Milkweed, Asclepias incarnata, and Swamp Milkweed, Asclepias perennis .

Join Dee for a walk through the Wildflower and Pollinator gardens at the Bailey Homestead Preserve every Tuesday at 9 am. Meet on the porch at the Native Landscapes and Garden Center at 1300 Periwinkle Way.