The annual migration of Monarch Butterflies is one of the most impressive phenomena in the natural world. Every spring, vast numbers of monarch butterflies undertake a multi-generational journey from their wintering grounds in the mountains of Mexico to temperate areas of the United States thousands of miles to the north where they will summer, and then return back to Mexico in the fall. This incredible yearly pilgrimage is under threat from habitat destruction, which has drastically reduced the population of migrants in recent decades.
Texas is an extremely critical state for these migrating monarchs because it is situated between the principal breeding grounds in the north and the overwintering areas in Mexico. Early each March, monarchs begin arriving from their overwintering grounds in Mexico seeking milkweed to lay their eggs.
Planting native milkweeds in Texas is critical to help support the monarchs arriving from their overwintering grounds in Mexico. It is vital that they find milkweed to lay their eggs before they die. The caterpillars will be the first of several new generations of monarchs that repopulate the eastern half of the United States and Canada.
But milkweed is not the only plant these migrating monarchs seek. Adult monarch butterflies seek nectar from other native plants, too, which provide energy to the adult butterflies and help to fuel their flight.
Here are some of the early blooming native flowers in Texas that help monarchs fuel their migration through the state.
We can help these iconic insects by planting milkweed and native flowers along their migrating path.