How to Create a Monarch Waystation

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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.

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  • Photo Credit Tamara Waters
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