Wild for Monarchs

Monarch
A monarch nectaring on a common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

HGCNY participates in the Wild for Monarchs program created by Wild Ones.

Here are some of our activities:

  • We distribute the Wild for Monarchs brochure (an excellent brochure!)
  • We give presentations about how to create a Monarch Waystation.
  • We provide information about monarch conservation in our newsletter, and participate in monarch citizen science projects.

Our most important contribution

Milkweed plants we've distributed
Some of the milkweed plants we’ve distributed, grown by local nurseries from local, wild-collected seed

Most important: we distribute local-ecotype* milkweed plants in Central New York. Why milkweeds? Because it’s the ONLY food monarch caterpillars can eat! We’re proud that we’ve distributed more than 2,000 milkweed plants over the years and will continue to do so.

We also provide native nectar plants for the adult monarch butterflies. Nectar plants are just as essential as milkweeds. The adult butterflies need nectar all along their journey to Mexico.

* “Local ecotype” means the plants were grown from seeds collected from wild plants in CNY, which can be different genetically from the same species in other regions.

Why just one butterfly?

Bumblebees and other pollinators get nectar from milkweed, too
Bumblebees and other pollinators get nectar from milkweed, too

With all the insects in the world, why do we focus so much effort on just one species of butterfly?

For one reason, they’re one of the most charismatic insects. Who can resist seeing a monarch floating through our yards? And their life story is compelling. They migrate all the way to Mexico and their great grandchildren return to us the next summer!

BUT there’s more important reasons. First, milkweeds and nectar plants are essential for other insects and pollinators, too. We’re helping the monarchs, but more than just monarchs.

And learning about the importance of milkweeds as a host plant for the caterpillar phase of the butterfly teaches important lessons about other butterflies and insects.