California Gardens - The Year Round Gardening Site

Monarch Butterfly - Danaus plexippus

The Monarch Butterfly is probably the best recognized butterfly around. People often plant Butterfly Weed, Asclepias tuberosa, to encourage the Monarch Butterflies to lay their eggs (see the single monarch egg below) in their yards. The Monarch eggs can often be found on the undersides of the milkweed leaves. The eggs are laid one at a time. Monarch cocoons can be purchased to get your population started. The Monarch caterpillar feeding on the Butterfly Weed, Asclepias tuberosa will gradually eat all of the leaves from the plants before making its cocoon (see below). The Monarch Butterflies will often migrate back to where they left their cocoons. So you can often get the Monarch Butterfly to come back to your butterfly garden and lay another season's eggs year after year. Adult Monarchs will feed on goldenrod (Solidago), a number of salvias, Mustang Mint (Monardella), Plumeria, and a wide variety of plants in the manzanita family. The adult Monarchs also love the nectar of Verbena bonariensis, Verbena lilacina De La Mina, Verbena lilacina Paseo Rancho, and Verbena rigida. The migrations of the Monarch Butterfly's are legendary. Many of the Monarch Butterflies winter in Mexico and make their way to most parts of North America. Some populations over-winter here in Southern California. There are a number of eucalyptus groves that can become draped in butterflies during their stay here in Southern California. The Monarch Butterfly in the third image is sipping the nectar of the California native, Narrowleaf Milkweed, Asclepias fascicularis. The milkweed has a toxin that gets incorporated into the bodies of the Monarch Butterflies and makes them taste bad to their predators. There are a number of other butterflies that have similar enough coloring and markings so that birds remember their prior bad experience with a Monarch and they get protection too.

Monarch Butterfly Egg

Egg from a Monarch Butterfly - Danaus plexippus. High resolution photos are part of our garden image collection.

Monarch Caterpillar on Milkweed

Caterpillar of a Monarch Butterfly feeding on milkweed.

Adult Monarch Butterfly on Milkweed

Adult Monarch Butterfly feeding on Narrow Leaf Milkweed.

Nectar Plants for Monarch Butterflies
Arbutus unedo * Strawberry Tree
Arctostaphylos edmundsii Danville * Danville Manzanita
Arctostaphylos edmundsii Little Sur * Little Sur Manzanita
Arctostaphylos Howard McMinn * Vine Hill Manzanita
Arctostaphylos insularis * Island Manzanita
Arctostaphylos John Dourley * John Dourley Manzanita
Arctostaphylos Lester Rowntree * Lester Rowntree Manzanita
Arctostaphylos Pacific Mist * Pacific Mist Manzanita
Asclepias californica * California Milkweed
Asclepias cordifolia * Purple Milkweed
Asclepias curassavica Silky Gold * Silky Gold Milkweed
Asclepias eriocarpa * Woolypod Milkweed, Indian Milkweed, Kotolo Milkweed
Asclepias erosa * Desert Milkweed
Asclepias fascicularis * Narrow Leaf Milkweed, Mexican Worled Milkweed
Asclepias linaria * Pineneedle Milkweed
Asclepias speciosa * Showy Milkweed
Asclepias tuberosa * Butterfly Weed
Bacharis pilularis * Coyote Brush
Berberis nevinii * Nevin's Barberry
Berberis thunbergii atropurpurea * Japanese Barberry
Ceanothus Centennial * Centennial California Lilac
Ceanothus Concha * Concha California Lilac
Ceanothus crassifolius * Hoary California Lilac
Ceanothus Dark Star * Dark Star California Lilac
Ceanothus Frosty Dawn * Frosty Dawn California Lilac
Ceanothus gloriosus Anchor Bay * Anchor Bay California Lilac
Ceanothus greggii * Desert Ceanothus
Ceanothus hearstiorum * Hearst's California Lilac
Ceanothus Joan Mirov * Joan Mirov California Lilac
Ceanothus Joyce Coulter * Joyce Coulter California Lilac
Ceanothus megacarpus * Bigpod California Lilac
Ceanothus oliganthus soriedatus Jim Brush, Hairy Ceanothus
Ceanothus Point Sierra * Point Sierra California Lilac
Ceanothus Ray Hartman * Ray Hartman California Lilac
Ceanothus Snow Flurry * Snow Flurry California Lilac
Ceanothus Tassajara Blue * Tassajara Blue California Lilac
Ceanothus Valley Violet * Valley Violet California Lilac
Ceanothus Wheeler Canyon * Wheeler Canyon California Lilac
Ceanothus Yankee Point * Yankee Point California Lilac
Chilopsis linearis * Desert Willow
Chilopsis Purple Splendor Purple Splendor Desert Willow
Chrysothamnus nauseosus * Rabbit Brush
Cirsium occidentale * Cobwebby Thistle
Encelia californica * California Brittle Bush, Coast Sunflower
Encelia farinosa * Brittle Bush
Encelia Paleo Yellow Paleo Yellow Brittle Bush
Ericameria nauseosa * Rabbit Brush
Erigeron argentatus * Silver Fleabane
Erigeron Bountiful * Bountiful Seaside Daisy
Erigeron karvinskianus Santa Barbara Daisy, Mexican Daisy
Erigeron Sea Breeze * Sea Breeze Seaside Daisy
Erigeron speciosa * Aspen Fleabane, Showy Fleabane, Oregon Fleabane
Erigeron Wayne Roderick * Wayne Roderick Seaside Daisy
Eriodictyon crassifolium * Felt Leaved Yerba Santa
Mahonia nivinii * Nevin's Barberry
Malosma laurina * Laural Sumac
Monardella lanceolata * Mustang Mint
Monardella odoratissima * Mountain Monardella, Desert Mint
Prunus andersonii * Desert Peach
Prunus campanulata * Taiwan Flowering Cherry
Prunus ilicifolia * Holly Leaf Cherry
Prunus ilicifolia lyonii * Catalina Cherry
Rhus integrifolia * Lemonade Berry
Rhus ovata * Sugar Bush
Ribes aureum * Golden Currant
Ribes malvaceum * Chapparal Currant
Ribes malvaceum viridifolia Ortega Beauty * Ortega Beauty Currant
Ribes speciosum * Fuchsia Flowered Currant
Salvia Allen Chickering * Allen Chickering Sage
Salvia apiana * White Sage
Salvia brandegeei * Brandegee's Sage, Santa Rosa Island Sage
Salvia carduacea * Thistle Sage
Salvia clevelandii * Cleveland Sage
Salvia Desperado * Desperado Sage
Salvia dorrii dorrii * Purple Desert Sage
Salvia leucophylla Amethyst Bluff * Amethyst Bluff Purple Sage
Salvia leucophylla Bee's Bliss * Bee's Bliss Sage
Salvia leucophylla Point Sal Spreader * Point Sal Spreader Purple Sage
Salvia mellifera * Black Sage
Salvia mellifera Green Carpet * Green Carpet Creeping Sage
Salvia mellifera Skylark * Skylark Sage
Salvia mellifera Terra Seca * Dwarf Black Sage
Salvia munzii * San Diego Sage, Munz's Sage
Salvia munzii Emerald Cascade * San Miguel Mountain Sage, Munz's Sage
Salvia Winnifred Gilman * Winnifred Gilman Sage
Sidalcea malvaeflora * Checker
Spharalcea ambigua * Desert Mallow
Spharalcea ambigua rosacea * Rosy Apricot Mallow, Apricot Globemallow
Spharalcea fulva La Luna La Luna Globe Mallow
Spharalcea philippiana * Trailing Globemallow
Verbena bonariensis * Purpletop Vervain
Verbena lilacina De La Mina * Cedros Island Verbena
Verbena lilacina Paseo Rancho * Paseo Rancho Verbena
Verbena rigida * Sandpaper Verbena