Matching Milkweeds to Monarch Butterflies

  • Monarch butterfly on a flower

Matching Milkweeds to Monarch Butterflies

Not all milkweeds are created equal when it comes to species of the native flowering plants that monarch butterflies like most. Now, ARS and university scientists in Ames, Iowa, have a better handle on the situation.

Their studies of nine milkweed species in critical breeding areas of the country show that female monarch butterflies prefer laying their eggs on certain milkweed species, but they don’t specialize in reproducing only on one kind. This knowledge is key to a broader national effort to reverse this iconic insect’s declining numbers through milkweed habitat restoration projects. Learn more.