Tag Archives: ‘Miss Huff’ Lantana

Flowers for Fall-Migrating Monarch Butterflies

One of the surest ways to see fall-migrating Monarch butterflies is to plant flowers that attract them. Monarchs will drop from the sky for the nectar they need for energy during fall migrations.

Monarch (Danaus plexippus) on Lantana (Lantana camara). Photo courtesy Tiago J. G. Fernandes. Used with permission.

The Monarchs will search for nectar plants the entire time they are traveling to their winter roosting sites in Mexico. Gardens can provide a place for the migrating monarchs so they can refuel and continue their journey. Help Monarchs by planting flowers that bloom late into the fall such as the flowers listed below.

Asters (Aster spp.) are a favorite of Monarchs (Danaus plexippus) in the fall, particularly the New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae).

Monarch on aster

Monarch nectaring on Aster.

Sunflowers (Helianthus spp.), including Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia) and Swamp Sunflowers (Helianthus angustifolius) are late bloomers and provide nectar for migrating Monarchs.

Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia)

Monarch nectaring on Swamp Sunflower. Photo courtesy LuGene Peterson. Used with permission.

Many Lantanas are still blooming.  I had several Monarchs stop in late October in my North Carolina, USA, garden to sip the nectar from ‘Miss Huff’ Lantana (Lantana camara ‘Miss Huff’)

Monarch butterfly nectaring on ‘Miss Huff’ Lantana.

Goldenrod (Solidago spp.) is a wonderful fall blooming perennial and is one of the major nectar sources for the Monarchs’ trip back to Mexico.

The brilliant purple-crimson bloom of Ironweed (Vernonia fasciculata) is very attractive to Monarchs. See some spectacular photos of Monarchs on Ironweed at the Flower Hill Farm Retreat.

Monarch sampling Ironweed nectar.

Other great nectar flowers to plant for fall-migrating Monarchs include
Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea).

Monarch butterfly goes to work on a Purple Coneflower in the garden.

Autumn Joy Stonecrop (Sedum ‘Herbstfreude’) burst into bloom in fall. If left standing, they provide winter interest and food for birds.

Migrating Monarchs stop by the Flower Hill Farm Retreat to feed on the blooms on “Autumn Joy” Sedum. Photo courtesy Carol Ann Duke. Used with permission.

Blazing Star  (Liatris spicata)

Blazing Star (Liatris spicata)

Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)

Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)

The Monarchs flock to the Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium purpureum).

Joe Pye Weed, Monarch Butterfly

Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)

What’s in a Name?

Ever wonder where the Monarch butterfly got its name?

Monarch nectaring on Tropical Milkweed

Monarch (Danaus plexippus) nectaring on Tropical Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica), also known as Scarlet Milkweed, Bloodflower, and Mexican Butterfly Weed.

Apparently, the sight of the Monarch butterfly and its orange color impressed the early settlers, who came to North America from Holland and England. So, they named it “Monarch,” after King William III, Prince of Orange, state holder of Holland, and later named King of England, according to Monarch Watch.

King William

King William III, Prince of Orange, state holder of Holland, and later named King of England. • Portrait by Sir Godfrey Kneller, circa 1680s.

Another version, related by Rick Mikula in The Family Butterfly Book, surmises that the early colonists of North America thought that the gold rim around the chrysalis reminded them of the king’s crown so they named the butterfly “Monarch.”

Queen and Monarch Chrysalises

Was the Queen (Danaus gilippus) butterfly so named because it resembles a Monarch but is smaller? Queen (left) and Monarch chrysalises shown in side-by-side comparison.

The scientific name of the Monarch, Danaus plexippus, has another origin. Danaus, great-grandson of Zeus, was a mythical king in Egypt or Libya, who founded Argos. Plexippus was one of the 50 sons of Aegyptus and the twin brother of Danaus.

“In Homeric Greek, plexippos means ‘one who urges on horses,’ i.e.: ‘rider or charioteer.’ Linnaeus, who came up with the scientific name, wrote that the names of the Danai festivi, the division of the genus to which Papilio plexippus belonged, were derived from the sons of Aegyptus.” –Wikipedia

Monarch nectaring on Miss Huff Lantana

Autumn-migrating Monarch nectaring on ‘Miss Huff’ Lantana (Lantana camara ‘Miss Huff’) in North Carolina, USA

Whatever the origin of its name, the Monarch butterfly truly is royalty!