Category Archives: Monarchs

First Monarch of the Season – 2023

June 2, 2023

The first Monarch of the season showed up on June 2nd. It was a female which looked fairly fresh and did lay a few eggs on my Asclepias incarnata.

I’ve still have lots of milkweed to plant, I just have to figure out where in my busy garden the plants will fit.

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Monarch Population Down 22%

Journey North released a report saying that the Monarch population was down 22% in the Mexico reserve.

You can help the Monarchs by planting milkweed in your yard. has this available right now for $3.15 each.
They deliver at the Kirkwood Farmers Market in April.

Greenscape and Sugar Creek are good resources in St. Louis.

My favorite species is Asclepias incarnata – Swamp Milkweed.
It usually grows for around three years of so depending on your soil conditions.
Early migrating Monarchs may find the new growth in mid-April.

Save the seeds and plant them in the fall.

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Monarch Watch Newsletter

Here is the link to subscribe to the newsletter.
This is the best newsletter to find out about the Monarch population.

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Monarch Population Down 26%

The latest data from Mexico shows the Monarch population is down 26% from the previous year.

graph showing winter monarch population numbers

If you’d like to provide support for the Monarchs as they come north, you need to plant as much milkweed as possible. Here are some varieties that I have tried in the past.

Swamp Milkweed

Swamp Milkweed – Asclepias incarnata
Does best it wet soil, but will grow for three years in typical garden soil. Save the seeds and replant in the fall or start inside after cold stratification. If you have large clumps, you can also separate them as new plants. This is the one milkweed in St. Louis that will come up and be available for egg laying in April.

Butterfly Weed

Butterfly Weed – Asclepias tuberosa
Does best in poor dry soil. Like lots of sun.

Tropical Milkweed

Tropical Milkweed – Asclepias curassavica
Easy to grow annual. I start these seeds around March 15th to have plants ready for Monarchs around April 15th.

Common Milkweed

Common Milkweed – Asclepias syriaca
While this plant is easy to grow in almost any setting, it does wander all over the garden and out into the yard. If you have the space where it can wander then give it a try. I took mine out. I’ve grown it in a large pot for a couple of years, but it died out.

Other Milkweeds I have tried, but without long-term success.

  • Asclepias-exaltata Poke milkweed
  • Asclepias hirtella – Tall Green Milkweed
  • Asclepiad purpurescens – Purple Milkweed – lovely, but doesn’t last.
  • Asclepias Speciosa -Showy Milkweed
  • Asclepias sullivantii – Sullivans Milkweed
  • Asclepias verticillata Whorled Milkweed

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Monarchs in Missouri

While Monarchs usually disappear after their first appearance in April, they seem to reappear in July and August in the St. Louis area.

Female in August

Monarchs began showing up in early July and laying eggs. I spotted their caterpillars around August 1st.

Just yesterday, August 8th, they were again laying eggs on my local milkweed. They are still laying eggs as of August 27th. This should be the last generation before they head to Mexico.

In the last six weeks, I’ve also had at least one male Monarch in the yard flying about the flowers.

The trick to attracting Monarchs is to have lots of milkweed, the more the better.

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Monarch from Egg to Butterfly

Six Weeks from Egg to Butterfly

June 2nd in St. Louis. as I was weeding the gardens, I found two newly emerged Monarchs. The first eggs I saw this year were around April 21st. Doing the math, it turns out that these Monarchs took six weeks to go from egg to Monarch butterfly. The extra long time period probably has to do with the cooler temperatures and extra spring rain.

If you are weeding in the garden, take some time and see if you can notice these newly emerged Monarchs.

This also emphasizes the importance of having early spring milkweed. My favorite is Ascelpias incarnata – Swamp Milkweed.

Note – June 6th – Monarch is flying around the garden. I’m not sure if it is MY monarch, but it’s nice to see.

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Monarch News

The Monarch eggs have hatched and it’s fun to watch the caterpillars chew up the Swamp Milkweed.

Below is a fun video on the Monarchs as they hibernate in Mexico.

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Swamp Milkweed Importance

It’s April 21st and in St. Louis we have just been visited by our first Monarch butterfly. This was a female looking for milkweed to lay eggs on.

What is interesting to note is that just six days ago, we had frost yet the cooler temperatures have not hurt the monarchs or the milkweed.

Unless you have started milkweed from seed, most people won’t have any milkweed to provide the visiting monarchs.

Swamp Milkweed is one of my favorites in spring as it has a lovely form and beautiful flowers.

The problem we have is that it only lasts three or so years before it dies off. The problem is probably the hot dry summers we have, which is not conducive to any plant with swamp in it’s name.

To avoid having to buy new plants every year, make sure you collect the seeds when they ripen on the stem, put them in a paper bag and then plant them in late fall where you want them to grow. Next year you will be rewarded with lots of new plants free of any cost. You can also buy seeds online and plant them outside in the fall.

Another trick I have learned is that your can dig up plants early in the spring and divide them. This way you may end up with six plants instead of one.


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Monarchs in California

Webinar Title: Western Monarch Population down by 99%: How you can help 

Date/Time: Tuesday, February 26th at 2PM ET (1pm Central, 12pm Mountain, 11am Pacific)


Description: Have you heard about the steep decline in the Western monarch population? Are you wondering how you can help? This webinar will explore the citizen science effort that tracks the California overwintering monarch population and will discuss the results from this year’s Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count, a record low and a 99.4% decline.


·         Katie Hietala-Henschell, Endangered Species Conservation Biologist, the Xerces Society

·         Nick Stong, Programs Manager, Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History

·         Emma Pelton, Western Monarch Lead, Endangered Species Conservation Biologist, the Xerces Society

The webinar will be offered through WebEx.  The link and participation details will be provided the day prior to the webinar.

Please feel free to share this announcement and registration information!We look forward to your participation!
MJV/NCTC Webinar Team

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Monarch Population Increases

monarch-popoulation-up-2019According to Monarch Watch, the Monarch population has the largest population in twelve years. The population more than doubled going from 2.48 hectares to 6.05 hectares.

It will be interesting to hear what the experts say about this large increase. In St. Louis Missouri we had a great year last year for Monarchs.

In the mean time, keep planting milkweed and plenty of nectar plants to keep the trend going.

Here’s what it looked like on October 1st, 2018.

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