Monarch butterflies migrate every fall south to Mexico. Creating a waystation in your yard can provided monarchs with a much-needed habitat for feeding, mating and rearing young.
Things You'll Need
- Nectar plants to provide food
- Water source
- Milkweed plants to rear young
Choose the site. It can be any size, anywhere in your yard. Choose a spot that gets plenty of sunshine every day. You might want to locate your way station in a part of the yard close to your home for easier access and viewing.
Choose the host plants. Milkweed is the food source for monarch caterpillars. A way station needs plenty of these plants available for adult monarchs to lay eggs on. Once the eggs hatch, the caterpillars will feed on the milkweed plants. For a certified way station, you'll need at least 10 milkweed plants.
Choose nectar plants. Adult monarchs feed on a variety of nectar plants--mostly perennials--so be sure to provide plenty. Good choices would be zinnias, sedum, cosmos, shasta daisy, goldenrod, coneflowers, salvia, catmint, yarrow and butterfly bush.
Provide access to water. A puddling area is a good thing to provide for butterflies. It can be as simple as a bird bath filled with sand and rocks, and a small amount of water. Use enough water to saturate the sand, but not so much that the rocks are completely covered.
Create shelter for the monarchs. Plant flowers closely to provide needed shelter from predators for the butterflies and caterpillars.
Certify your way station through Monarch Watch if you'd like (see Resources below). There is a small certification fee.
Tips & Warnings
- Whether you choose to certify your way station or not, you'll enjoy creating the habitat and watching the visitors it will attract.
- Photo Credit Tamara Waters
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