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Monarch Habitat Restoration on Public Lands

New Publications

Monarch Habitat Restoration in Arizona

Monarch Restoration Guide – Arizona

Public and private lands dedicated to conservation across the Southwest yearn for ways they can support the monarch butterfly migration. Questions abound – what are the best milkweeds and nectar plants for our location? Based on over 20,000 sighting and tagging records submitted to the Southwest Monarch Study, we are pleased to provide you with a Monarch Restoration Guide for Monarchs in Arizona. If there is interest, we will offer similar publications for other Southwest states.

Important considerations to bear in mind in planning:

  • Monarchs need milkweed (Asclepias spp.) – it is their only host plant, the only plant they will lay their eggs on and the only plant their caterpillars will eat.
  • Monarchs lay eggs on milkweed before it blooms. They need spring blooming plants for their nectar needs.
  • During the Fall migration, monarchs are not breeding. They need strong nectar sources to build lipids to support their migration and overwintering needs. Fall blooming plants are crucial to their overwintering success.
  • Breeding monarchs live 2 – 5 weeks. Fall Migrating monarchs are not breeding and live up to 9 months.

Our planting guide lists milkweed and nectar plants for all the elevations in Arizona. These recommendations are “monarch verified” and accessed reliably in the field. Monarchs will turn to other species when nectar is scarce but observations over time have shown these are preferred. Try to incorporate species that are marked with (*) in each category when possible. They are favored by a large margin seasonally by monarchs when they are present in the area.

A word about Thistles. They are likely the most misunderstand nectar resource. A rich nectar source, there is a lot of confusion over which thistles are invasive and which are native, so in haste there is a tendency to remove them all! Yet, monarchs and other pollinators simply love thistles, so take the time to learn the native thistles in your area. (See our Resource list below.)

Be careful about insecticides when buying milkweed, nectar plants, and seeds. Many growers use topical and systemic insecticides to provide pristine plants, free of insects and their chewing. But remember, insecticides kill insects and monarchs are insects. Some growers label plants that are free of neonictinoids, but others don't. The only way to be sure is to ask. If necessary, contact the grower directly.

Thank you for your interest in monarch conservation! Let us know how we can best support your efforts. We will continue to update our publications to offer you the most up to date information. Contact us with any questions or concerns: info@swmonarchs.org

Resources

Growing Milkweed from Seed
https://swmonarchs.org/startingseeds.php

Milkweeds: A Conservation Practitioner’s Guide
https://xerces.org/milkweeds-a-conservation-practitioners-guide/

Monarch and Milkweed Misconceptions
https://monarchjointventure.org/images/uploads/documents/milkweed_misconceptions.pdf

Monarch Nectar Plants Southwest
https://xerces.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/SW_Monarch_Plant_List_spread.pdf

Mowing and Management: Best Practices for Monarchs
https://monarchjointventure.org/images/uploads/documents/MowingForMonarchs.pdf

Native Thistles – A Conservation Practitioner’s Guide
https://xerces.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/2016-029_Native-Thistle-Conservation-Guidelines_FINAL_web.pdf

Neonicotinoids: Risks of Neonicotinoid Use to Pollinators
https://monarchjointventure.org/images/uploads/documents/risks_of_neonics_to_pollinators.pdf

Pollinator Plants of the Desert Southwest-Native Milkweeds
https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_PLANTMATERIALS/publications/azpmctn12744.pdf

Pollinators in the Southwest
https://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/pollinators.html

“Seed dormancy and germination vary within and among species of milkweeds.” Kaye, Thomas N., Isaac J. Sandlin, and Matt A. Bahm. AoB Plants 10.2 (2018): ply018.
https://academic.oup.com/aobpla/article/10/2/ply018/4917378

“Status of Danaus plexippus population in Arizona.” Morris, Gail M., Christopher Kline, and Scott M. Morris. The Journal of the Lepidopterists’ Society 69.2 (2015): 91-108.
https://swmonarchs.org/images/2015-69-2-091.pdf

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