Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Monarch Waystation #6591

Our garden at home now officially registered as Monarch Waystation #6591.  The Monarch Waystation Program is operated by Monarch Watch, based out of the University of Kansas.  The goal of the program is to provide habitat for Monarch Butterflies (and other pollinators) throughout their liifecycle and to suitable stopping points for them during their annual migrations across North America.
Our Monarch Waystation certificate

To have your garden certified as a Monarch Waystation means that at a minimum you provide host plants and nectar sources for the Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus).  This is not as daunting a task as it sounds.  For host plants you need something in the Milkweed family.  We currently have Butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa) as the main Monarch host plant in our garden, but we have also planted seeds for Common Milkweed (A. syriaca) and Swamp Milkweed (A. incarnata)

Butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa)
Last year, with the unusually spring, we had caterpillars on our Butterflyweed by the last week of May.

2nd instar (?) caterpillar on Butterflyweed 5/23/12

3rd instar caterpillar on Butterflyweed 5/16/12
Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)

For nectar plants, I suggest planting Goldenrods (Solidago sp.) and Asters (various genera).  I recommend these plants because they bloom during the Fall migration period of the Monarch Butterfly.

One common misconception that prevents many people from planting goldenrod is the belief that causes "hayfever" or other allergic reactions.  Almost no one is allergic to the pollen from Goldenrod plants.  The pollen from goldenrod is very large and is transferred by insects, not by the wind.  The actual culprit behind most late summer/early fall pollen allergies is Annual Ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia).   

Canada Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis)

Lance-leafed Goldenrod (Euthamia graminifolia -formerly Solidago graminifolia)

Zigzag Goldenrod (Solidago flexicaulis)

Blue-stemmed Goldenrod (Solidago caesia)

New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae)

Calico Aster (Symphyotrichum lateriflorum)

Large-leafed Aster (Eurybia macrophylla)
Please visit monarchwatch.org for more information about the Monarch Waystation Program.

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