Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) begin their annual fall migration in mid-August. These butterflies are the great-great-grandchildren of the monarchs that migrated to Mexico last fall.
You can help monarchs by doing the following:
- Turn a portion of your lawn into a wildflower meadow — plant milkweed or other native wildflowers.
- Delay mowing areas with milkweed until later in the fall.
- Avoid using herbicides — they kill all life-stages of monarchs (egg, larva (caterpillar), pupa, and adult).
- Report sightings of adults online. View a map of the sightings so far this year.
Check out a chart of when migration peaks in your area.
Have you seen a small green pod about an inch long? This is a monarch caterpillar once it enters the pupa stage and is now in a chrysalis. If you see one, try not to disturb it. They will find a safe place – often under a milkweed leaf – to enter this stage in their development, which lasts about 9-14 days. Sometimes they will pupate hanging under eaves, decks, or other garden plants, sometimes even on window screens,
Photo of monarch caterpillar in pupa stage by Sandy Van Vranken.