Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) begin their annual fall migration around mid-August. These butterflies are the great-great-grandchildren of the monarchs that migrated to Mexico last fall. You can help monarchs by providing food (nectar) and keeping those areas protected:
- 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, caterpillar, pupa, and adult).
- Report sightings of adults online. View a map of the sightings so far this year.
Don’t know when their migration peaks in your area? Check out this chart.
Have you seen a small green pod about an inch-long? This is a monarch caterpillar after 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, other garden plants, or even on window screens!
Photo at top: Monarch butterfly after it emerged from a chrysalis. Photo by Tonya Whitford Condon. Photo provided by the NYS DEC.