The plight of the monarch butterfly has captured public attention and sparked widespread interest in helping to save their dwindling populations. In this in-depth portrait of the monarch butterfly—covering its life cycle, its remarkable relationship with milkweed, its extraordinary migration, and the threats it now faces due to habitat loss and climate change—detailed instructions on how to design and create monarch-friendly landscapes are enriched by guidance on observing and understanding butterfly behavior and habits. Following the model of their previous best-selling book, 100 Plants to Feed the Bees, the Xerces Society provides at-a-glance profiles of the plant species that provide monarchs with nourishment. The plants, which are all commercially available, range from dozens of species of milkweed—the only food of monarch caterpillars—to numerous flowering plants, shrubs, and trees that provide nectar for the adult butterfly, including those that bloom in late season and sustain monarchs in their great migration. Gorgeous photographs of monarchs and plants, plus illustrations, maps, and garden plans, make this a visually engaging guide.
Attracting and protecting monarch butterflies is easy and necessary, according to this urgent guide from the conservation nonprofit Xerces Society. "A simple patch of milkweeds and a couple of other wildflowers next to your own front door can be the place where a tiny egg hatches and grows to become part of an epic story," the authors write, and offer key facts about the species, including an outline of the monarch life cycle, mating habits, and migration patterns. To counter dire threats to the butterflies, including insecticides and climate change, the authors suggest readers make pollinator gardens using native plants, detailing such basics as sun exposure, soil type, and bloom time, and survey more than 30 varieties of milkweed, which butterflies lay eggs upon, as well as 100 other beneficial "host" plants that provide life-sustaining nectar. The brief tips on garden design feel out of place, but the guidance on plant basics is straightforward and easy to follow. These eye-opening tips will appeal to both seasoned conservationists and those new to the cause.