Migrating Monarchs Right Now

by | Jan 16, 2023

Did you know that right now the migrating monarchs, also called super monarchs, because they live 6-9 months,  are all hanging in trees in Mexico?  Did you know that that’s all.they.do??  Did you know that they hang around with all their friends for months without eating???  Can you imagine not eating all winter and just living off the reserves from fall harvest? (Not the recommended weight loss plan).  

The migrating monarchs’ story is quite the phenomenon, from their flight of passage, to hang-time, to the super monarch’s return home!

It’s a miracle that any of these winged creatures can fly 3,000 miles to Mexico.  Whew, I can’t last more that 45 seconds on a stationary bike, no wonder they need months to sleep in the trees when they get there!

I’ve been raising monarchs for 15 years and continually learn something new about these intriguing creatures everyday that make me change the way live.  That’s right, the monarch butterfly has changed my life for the better and I hope it’ll change yours too.

Planting late blooming native plants along their flight of passage enables them to continually fill their nectar reserves not only for their long migration flight, but also for their “hang time”?  That’s right, they need enough nectar reserved for their “hang time”, without it they will not survive the winter.

Hang Time

Hang time is the time during which monarchs are over wintering in Mexico in a state called diapause.  During this time, they don’t eat or breed, they really do just hang.  This is important because they don’t have enough nutrients reserved for anything else.  During this hang time they are waiting for nature’s cues of when to return to their breeding grounds, AKA, your backyard.

Between February and April they become a little more active and some begin their journey north.  This is where early blooms come in to play, without early blooming native plants and without milkweed to lay eggs on, the monarch’s journey ends before it begins?

One Last, “Did You Know”

Did you know that the monarch’s exist only because you plant milkweed, and early and late blooming native flowers?  Okay one more, Did you know that being a part of their solution today does not require a green thumb??


That’s what I said!  NO green thumb required!  I can hear people everywhere cheering!  Something that has always bothered me is how much water is used watering plants!  I don’t know if it’s because my grandparents always got after me to shut the water off while brushing my teeth or what, but it’s always been in the back of my mind whenever I see our sprinklers watering the grass (insert cringe).  Water waste aside, simply put, I don’t want to take care of them, I just want to enjoy them!  I’m lazy like that!  This is why I LOVE native plants, they’re used to the climate and prefer to be left alone…kinda like cats, (real cats, not cats short for caterpillars).  

Yes, native plants are independent, the best kind to own!  Not only do they thrive when left alone, but their roots become a ffiltration system for your water AND become hiding places for all kinds of incests and animals!!  

Native plants, with all their benefits, beauty and brawn are the new old way of gardening!The age old garden club saying for native plants is, “The ffirst year they sleep, the second year they creep, the third year they leap.”  Unless of course you buy them already in their leap year from your favorite local garden center.  (Pay good money for good healthy plants and then thank your grower for “plant sitting” during the sleep and creep years for you to enjoy the leap year in your garden!) 

Super Monarch’s Flight of Passage

So, right now, our brave weary monarchs are using their nutrient reserves waiting for Mother Nature’s alarm clock.  Let’s give them the greatest “Welcome Home” ever with the most nutrient rich flight of passage north!  Imagine, if you will, you’re on a trip and everywhere you go there’s food just waiting for you.  You don’t have to beg, borrow, or steal, it’s just there, waiting for you when you need it no questions asked.  By hosting butterflies, your backyard, becomes a safe haven for them to eat, rest, and reproduce!  Here in Michigan we’re in the dead of winter, albeit a mild one for us, (no snow in the middle of January? What’s that??) winter sowing is the.best.way.ever to prepare your native gardens! 

So, right now, start with milkweed!  LOTS and lots of milkweed!

This year, I’m going to plant 50 new milkweed plants in my yard…how many will you plant?



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