According to Monarch Watch, an educational outreach program at the University of Kansas, “By creating and maintaining a Monarch Waystation you are contributing to monarch conservation, an effort that will help assure the preservation of the species and the continuation of the spectacular monarch migration phenomenon.”

Monarch butterflies migrate each year from all over the United States and Canada to California and Mexico for the winter. Unfortunately natural sources of milkweed and nectar where monarch butterflies typically breed in spring are disappearing.

The scarcity is due to land development, use of herbicides in crops and fields, and the conversion of roadside areas to grasslands where most habitats are not sustainable.

Milkweed and Nectar

All you need to create a butterfly habitat is milkweed and a source of nectar. The nectar can come from plants you might already have. A monarch waystation does not take much room and can be planted anywhere–a community garden, a school, a zoo, your backyard, or even just a roadside.

The milkweed serves as a host plant that the caterpillars feed from and create chrysalises. The nectar plants feed the adult butterflies so the cycle can continue. Amazingly, the butterflies will find you.

You can buy a monarch waystation kit from shop.monarchwatch.com for just $16. The kit includes seeds to six different milkweed plants and six different nectar flowers and a guide to create your own monarch waystation. The flowers recommended for nectar include something you may already have in your flowerbeds: Echinacea, zinnia, verbena, Mexican sunflower, and so on.

Monarch Butterfly: A Community Habitat

It’s an ideal project to do with children or with a community group. Little girls in Brownie troops are creating butterfly habitats and you can do it too. Do a little research to discover what are the most common butterflies in your area. Each butterfly variety has favorite plants that you can find at your local nursery.

Butterflies are free to fly–even in your backyard.