A female monarch recently made her way to Painters Greenhouse to lay eggs on native milkweed plants.
Every spring millions of monarchs make their annual journey North from their overwintering grounds in the mountainous pine forests of Mexico across the Eastern US, towards Canada. It takes at least 3 successive generations to make the trip north, and the great grandchildren of those who began the journey head back south to Mexico in late summer.
Painters has been growing and selling milkweed, the host plant for the monarch butterfly, for several years now. Grower Emily Sampson says, “We have had monarch eggs and caterpillars on our milkweed annually in late summer/early fall, but this is the first time we have seen a monarch lay eggs at the greenhouse in spring.”
Painters has been a local leader in monarch conservation efforts by providing native milkweed plants and even eggs and caterpillars to conservation organizations, educators, and individual customers. This spring, any customer who buys a milkweed plant is likely to take home a caterpillar or two with them as well. We will be offering rearing advice to those who may want to raise their caterpillars in containers to give the monarchs a better chance at survival.
Painters offers over 100 species of native plants, many of which benefit butterflies (and other pollinators) as host plants or by providing nectar. We believe individuals can be stewards of the land and have a great positive impact by adding native plants to their gardens and properties. Monarchs especially need our help as their populations have declined by 90% over the past 20 years, and experts warn that the monarch migration is at risk of being lost. There are currently efforts to have monarchs listed as an endangered species. The decline of monarchs is attributed to habitat loss and insecticide use throughout their range. The widespread use of Roundup in North America, which has eliminated milkweed and other nectar plants from vast areas of the monarchs’ summer breading grounds, is likely the greatest conservation concern. Painters is committed to pollinator-friendly pest management practices to ensure all of the plants we offer to our customers are safe for the bees and butterflies we hope to attract to our gardens. For more information about helping monarchs, visit monarchwatch.org, bringingnaturehome.net, or make a trip to Painters and ask for our Pollinator Plant List and advice on how to start a garden for pollinators.