Partnering to conserve the monarch butterfly migration

Question and Answer

What do monarchs eat?

In North America, monarch caterpillars rely on milkweed (Asclepias genus) and a few closely related genera to grow and develop. Female monarchs use a series of cues to find milkweed and lay their eggs on the leaves of this plant.  After the egg hatches, the caterpillar feeds on milkweed exclusively, and does not leave the host plant until it is ready to pupate. Therefore, milkweed is known as the “host plant” for monarchs. Adult monarchs drink the nectar of many species of flowering plants. It is important for monarch habitat to provide food sources for both caterpillars and adult butterflies, so plant native milkweed and nectar flowers in your habitat! Answer adapted from the University of Minnesota Monarch Lab FAQ.

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