Monarch butterflies are one of the most well known and loved butterfly species in Ohio, and like many pollinators, they are in trouble. Experts believe one of the main reasons for the decline in monarchs is lack of habitat. Monarch caterpillars can only survive on milkweed species as their host plant, and the amount of milkweed on the landscape has decreased significantly in the last twenty years.
Adult monarchs also suffer from lack of food resources. Each year, monarchs make the long journey to their wintering grounds in the oyamel fir forests in central Mexico. This journey might entail traveling nearly 2,000 miles, one way. Without nectar plants along the way, the monarchs may not be able to store up enough fat reserves to make it through the winter before returning to the states to breed in the spring.
Planting native plants, especially milkweed, is a great way to help save the monarch butterfly. Ohio is home to 13 different types of native milkweed that will be used as host plants for monarch caterpillars. Butterfly weed, common milkweed, purple milkweed, Sullivant’s milkweed, and swamp milkweed are considered uber-milkweeds and seem to be particularly attractive for egg laying.