​​​​​​​​Building a Better Monarch Butterfly Garden

August 2020 | 27 min., 30 sec.
by Adam M. Baker
University of Kentucky

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​​The eastern North American migratory population of the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) is in serious decline. Most efforts to conserve this iconic pollinator focus on habitat restoration in the agriculturally dominated landscapes of the U.S. Midwest. Often overlooked are small, butterfly-centric gardens, such as Monarch Waystations, that can act as stepping stones between urban and rural areas that are likely to contain remnant populations of monarch host plants. This presentation addresses the environmental pressures faced by monarch butterflies, why their conservation matters, and what initiatives can offset their decline. It explains how applying sustainable agriculture theory and butterfly host-finding theory to conservation gardens can increase their findability, usage, and overall ecological value for monarch butterflies and other pollinators. Discussion will also cover the viability of milkweed “nativars” as monarch host plants and their potential use in conservation plantings.

About the Presenter

​​Adam M. Baker​​Adam M. Baker graduated in 2020 from the Entomology Department at the University of Kentucky, where he studied monarch butterfly ecology and conservation. Dr. Baker is from southwestern Michigan and spent his youth exploring the dunes, bogs, and woods of the Lower Peninsula. His work on monarch butterfly conservation in the urban landscape has been featured in symposia, articles, and educator training sessions nationwide.

Contact Information:
Email: heresadamb@uky.edu

Additional Resources


General information, research articles, posters, and more​ − Adam Baker

​Journal Articles​​

Invasive Paper Wasp Turns Urban Pollinator Gardens into Ecological Traps for Monarch Butterfly LarvaeScientific Reports

Configuration and Location of Small Urban Gardens Affect Colonization by Monarch ButterfliesFrontiers in Ecology and Evolution

Japanese Beetles’ Feeding on Milkweed Flowers May Compromise Efforts to Restore Monarch Butterfly HabitatScientific Reports

Colonization and Usage of Eight Milkweed (Asclepias) Species by Monarch Butterflies and Bees in Urban Garden SettingsJournal of Insect Conservation

​General Reading

Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants − Douglas W. Tallamy

Butterfly Gardening with Native Plants: How to Attract and Identify Butterflies − Christopher Kline

Monarchs and Milkweeds: A Migrating Butterfly, a Poisonous Plant, and Their Remarkable Story of Coevolution − Anurag Agrawal

Monarch Conservation and Citizen Science​

Million Pollinator Garden Challenge − National Pollinator Garden Network

Monarch Butterfly − National W​ildlife Federation

Monarch Butterfly − World Wildlife Foundation

Monarch Butterfly Tracking and Migration − Journey North

The Monarch Butterfly in North America − U.S. Forest Service

Monarch Conservation − The Xerces Society

Monarch Larval Reporting, Information, and Resources − The Monarch Joint Venture

Monarch Waystations, Tagging, and Resources − ​Monarch Watch

Save the Monarch Butterfly​ − U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Tracking Monarch Diseases​ − Project Monarch Health

​Webcast Sponsor​

​Grant Funding

​This webcast was supported by funds provided through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Institute of Food Agriculture (NIFA), Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI), NIFA SCRI grant 2016-51181-25399; by NIFA IR-4 Project Award #2019-34383-29973.​

Signature Sponsor​



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