Changing Planet

Milkweed for Monarchs


Milkweed, of any variety, is the only plant that the monarch butterfly caterpillar can feed on. This means that the familiar orange-and-black butterfly’s entire lifecycle depends on milkweed—and this is why Reni Winter is on a mission to get milkweed planted in as many places as possible.

Known for its epic migration between its overwintering grounds in Mexico and much of the rest of North America, the monarch is a ubiquitous and beloved butterfly throughout most of the continent. But as its habitat is destroyed and milkweed is disappearing from the environment so is the monarch becoming threatened

Reni Winter (in the picture) was promoting her message about monarch butterflies and handing out free packets of milkflower seeds during the two days of the Indiana Dunes BioBlitz, when hundreds of scientists and thousands of volunteers gathered to identify as many species as they could find in 24 hours in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

The “owner and grower and steward” of Winterhaven Wildflowers & Native Plant Preserve, an Indiana native plant nursery and preserve on 13 acres of former tallgrass prairie in central Indiana, Winter is an active member  of the Indiana Native Plant and Wildflower Society.

Winterhaven is a certified wildlife habitat with the National Wildlife Federation backyard habitat program and also a Certified Monarch Waystation with Monarch Watch, Winter proudly says..

Additional information:

Monarch Watch

Internal Clock Leads Monarch Butterflies to Mexico (National Geographic News story)

Forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. He has 120,000 followers on social media. David Braun edits the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directs the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. Follow David on Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn
  • WinterhavenWildflowers

    I wish to clarify that any species of milkweed, or Asclepias, is a suitable host plant for the monarch caterpillar. Asclepias syriaca has very large leaves and so may be better suited for sustaining the voracious appetites of the 5th instar caterpillar, just before it becomes a chrysalis. But any milkweed will do. To learn more about varieties of milkweed, visit

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