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WESTERN MONARCH BUTTERFLIES THRIVE ON NECTAR from a variety of blossoms, so keep your garden loaded with summer flowers. Their caterpillars however, can only survive on Asclepias aka milkweed leaves. Never plant evergreen non-native milkweed! Here's why:


WESTERN MONARCH BUTTERFLIES 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 begins to leaf out again in spring and will provide lots of healthy leaves for Monarch caterpillars until fall. 


ALL MILKWEEDS CAN HARBOR A PROTOZOAN PARASITE called Ophryocystis elektroscirrha aka OE or O.e. 


OE IS HIGHLY ACTIVE IN WINTER. This is when native milkweeds are bare and dormant, but non-native evergreen milkweeds continue to have leaves. Monarchs who delay or do not migrate and hibernate due to the availability of these varieties of milkweed lay eggs that will be prone to the dibilitataing effects of the protozoa. Butterflies that emerge following metamorphosis are often deformed and are generally not as robust as they should be.


IN LOS ANGELES, PLANT THESE NATIVE VARIETIES OF ASCLEPIAS: eriocarpa, california, fascicularis and vestita. 

PROMOTE HEALTHY MONARCHS: Plant local native milkweed varieties and do not apply pesticides or herbacides in the garden. 


LEARN MORE ABOUT MONARCHS from the Xerces Society heremonarchs


Monarch Butterfly (male)


Monarch Butterfly (female)


Non-native Milkweed

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The photos on the left are of non-native milkweed. Do not plant milkweed with the bright yellow or orange flowers. The photos to the right are a native variety called Narrow-leaf Milkweed, Asclepias fascicularis


Native Milkweed

on non-native milkweed

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