Monarch Watch is a nonprofit education, conservation, and research program based at the University of Kansas that focuses on the monarch butterfly, its habitat, and its spectacular fall migration. Monarch Watch was founded in 1992 by Dr. Orley “Chip” Taylor and the monarch tagging program was launched in the fall of that year.
Mission Statement: Monarch Watch strives to provide the public with information about the biology of monarch butterflies, their spectacular migration, and how to use monarchs to further science education in primary and secondary schools. We engage in research on monarch migration biology and monarch population dynamics to better understand how to conserve the monarch migration. We also promote protection of monarch habitats throughout North America.
A Monarch Waystation is a site that “provides milkweeds, nectar sources and shelter needed to sustain monarch butterflies as they migrate through North America.”
“Monarch Waystations are places that provide resources necessary for monarchs to produce successive generations and sustain their migration. Without milkweeds throughout their spring and summer breeding areas in North America, monarchs would not be able to produce the successive generations that culminate in the migration each fall. Similarly, without nectar from flowers these fall migratory monarch butterflies would be unable to make their long journey to overwintering grounds in Mexico. The need for host plants for larvae and energy sources for adults applies to all monarch and butterfly populations around the world.”
Here are the guidelines for a Monarch Waystation:
Size. A suitable Monarch Waystation habitat can be easily integrated into an existing garden. There is no mimimum area requirement in order to certify your habitat; however, a truly effective Monarch Waystation will be at least 100 square feet. The total area may be split among several discrete sites at your location and there is no upper limit for the size of a Monarch Waystation habitat.
Exposure. Butterflies and butterfly plants need lots of sun; therefore, Monarch Waystations need to be located in an area that receives at least six hours of sun a day. Drainage and Soil Type. Milkweeds and nectar plants will do best in relatively light (low-clay) soils. Good drainage is needed to avoid root rot and provide good aeration of the roots.
Shelter. To assure that the maximum number of monarchs survive in your habitat, the plants should be relatively close together. However, they should not be crowded – be sure to follow the planting guides specific to each plant. All monarch life stages need shelter from predators and the elements. Planting milkweeds and nectar plants close together contributes to this shelter for monarchs and other wildlife.
Milkweed Plants. To maximize the use of your habitat by monarchs, we recommend that you have at least 10 milkweed plants, made up of two or more species; however, a large number of plants (more than 10) of one species is sufficient. Milkweeds of different species mature and flower at different times during the season. By increasing the number of milkweed species in your habitat you will increase the likelihood that monarchs will utilize your property for a longer period during the breeding season.
Nectar Plants. Monarchs, other butterflies, and numerous pollinators need nectar. By providing nectar sources that bloom sequentially or continuously during the season (as many butterfly plants do) your Monarch Waystation can provide resources for monarchs throughout the breeding season and the migration in the fall. A Monarch Waystation should contain several annual, biennial, or perennial plants that provide nectar for butterflies.
Management. You should have a plan to sustain a Monarch Waystation. Specific actions you take will depend on the features of your habitat; however, some general examples include mulching, thinning, fertilizing, amending the soil, removing dead stalks, watering, eliminating insecticide use, removing invasive plant species, and incorporating additional features.
The Blooming Farmhouse became a certified Monarch Waystation in June of 2019.
Also, here is a Monarch Waystation PDF brochure.
I would love to hear your comments about this program below!