MONARCH BUTTERFLY LIFE CYCLE
Western Monarch butterflies will thrive on nectar from a variety of flowers, so keep your garden loaded with summer flowers. Their caterpillars however, can only survive on milkweed leaves. Never plant evergreen non-native milkweed! Here's why:
Western Monarchs naturally migrate in fall to the central/northern coast of California where they hibernate in protected forests through the winter. Meanwhile, native milkweed dies back and goes dormant during winter. It leafs out again in spring, providing lots of healthy leaves for Monarch catepillars throughout the spring and summer.
Non-native evergreen milkweed harbors a protozoan parasite (Ophryocystis elektroscirrha aka OE or O.e.) which is most active in winter. Monarchs who delay or do not hibernate due to the availability of these varieties of milkweed, will lay eggs that will be prone to the dibilitataing effects of the protozoa. Butterflies emerging following metamorphosis are often deformed, and are generally not as robust as they should be.
In Los Angeles, plant these native varieties: Asclepius eriocarpa, california, fascicularis and vestita. Learn more about Monarchs here: monarchs
The photos on the left are of non-native milkweed. Do not plant milkweed with the bright yellow or orange flowers. The photo to the right is a native variety called Narrow-leaf Milkweed, Asclepias fascicularis