We have loved discovering Monarch caterpillars and Monarch butterflies in our garden each year. Last year we were able to raise and release four Monarch butterflies throughout the Summer. We usually do not see many butterflies until early to mid-June from looking through a few years worth of pictures. Learning about Monarch butterflies and raising Monarch caterpillars is a great Summer activity as well as Citizen Science project.
We live in Ohio and many of the Monarch caterpillar’s and Monarch butterfly’s food sources are not blooming until that time of year. We usually do not even look for Monarch’s until the Praying Mantis’ have hatched and our garden is growing well. Last year the first picture we took of a Monarch was June 28 on a bright Purple Coneflower.
We decided to try our hand at finding Monarch caterpillar’s, raising them and releasing the Monarch butterfly since we have seen them around our house for the last few years. I was the one to find the tiny caterpillar’s munching on some Honeyvine Milkweed (Cynanchum laeve) near our vegetable garden.
Books about Monarch Butterflies
This book shares the life cycle of a Painted Lady butterfly but it’s still a great book to read.
One Million Monarchs is a beautifully illustrated book for all ages depicting the long journey of the monarch butterfly out of Mexico.
For more books about Migration of other animals check out our Migration Book List for Kids post.
Hands-on Activities with Monarch Butterflies
Take a walk at a nature park or garden to look for Monarch Butterflies or participate in a Citizen Scientist Butterfly Count in your area. You will want to be sure that the food source is blooming to have greater success. Make sure to bring your binoculars and large net to catch a butterfly if you can.
If you are lucky enough to find a butterfly then you will want to be still and quiet in order to be able to catch one. You might need a magnifying glass to help you see all of it’s markings and colors.
Both of my boys really enjoyed checking each day on the Monarch caterpillar’s and making sure it had enough Honeyvine Milkweed to munch on. We have it growing along our front porch so we have access to plenty of fresh leaves.
If you do not know where to find Monarch caterpillar’s then you could buy a butterfly growing kit to raise your own. If you have toddlers or preschoolers who want to get very hands-on then you might consider a butterfly life cycle kit. The plastic life cycle play kit will allow young learners the chance to explore a butterfly from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to adult.
Once your caterpillar turns into a chrysalis it is just a matter of a week or so before you will have a Monarch butterfly.
Both of my boys enjoy carefully releasing the newly hatched Monarch butterfly but only after they let it crawl around their fingers and hands. They admire the beauty while taking care not to damage the wings or feet.
Places to Learn More about Monarch Butterflies
I want to share some helpful websites and resources in case you want to learn more about Monarch Butterflies.
Grow Milkweed Plants helps citizen scientists locate and learn about milkweed native to their part of the country (USA).
Journey North is a project that tracks the northward migration of various animals in the spring.
Monarch Butterfly Garden is a nature blog filled with tips, ideas, and resources designed to guide you through the challenges of creating a successful butterfly garden and raising healthy monarch butterflies.
Monarch Butterfly USA is a Monarch Butterfly Learning and Discovery Website! Life Cycle Facts, Milkweed and Nectar “WAYSTATION” gardening, Migration, Educational Sites and Seed Links, FREE Curriculum Resource Guide, and the discovery of the monarch’s over-wintering site in Mexico.
Monarch Conservation Webinar Series– Many free recorded webinars to watch in order to learn about monarch conservation.
Monarch Education Resources– A nice collection of free PDF resources for all ages.
Monarch Joint Venture is a national partnership of federal and state agencies, non-governmental organizations, businesses and academic programs working together to conserve the monarch butterfly migration.
Monarch Milkweed Mapper-This project is part of a collaborative effort to map and better understand monarch butterflies and their host plants across the Western U.S. Data compiled through this project will improve our understanding of the distribution and phenology of monarchs and milkweeds, identify important breeding areas, and help us better understand monarch conservation needs.
Monarch Watch – This website provides education, conservation and research all around Monarchs. You can find out about the life cycle, milkweeds and tagging.
The Monarch Larva Monitoring Project involves citizen scientists from across the United States and Canada.
University of Minnesota Monarch Lab – The Monarch Lab aims to combine real science with techniques that work for both teachers and students
If you are looking for funds to start a Wildlife Garden or schoolyard garden then check out these garden grant opportunities.
Welcome to Nature Book Club Monthly Link Up No.16
April’s theme for #NatureBookClub is Migration
Be sure to check out the other Co-hosts as they share migration activities, crafts and projects! I know it might be hard to choose just one type of life cycle to share so do not worry you can share up to 3 posts in the link up below!
Mapping Animal Migrations by Karyn at Teach Beside Me
The Treasure of the Loch Ness Monster Online Book Club by Dachelle at Hide The Chocolate
Raising Milkweed by Erika at The Playful Scholar
Link Up Guidelines
- Choose an engaging nature book, do a craft or activity, and add your post to our monthly link up.
- The link up party goes live at 9:00 a.m. EST on the 20th of each month and stays open until the last day of the month. Hurry to add your links!
- You can link up to 3 posts. Please do not link up advertising posts, advertise other link up parties, your store, or non-related blog posts. They will be removed.
- By linking up with us, you agree for us to share your images and give you credit of course if we feature posts.
Also, join our Nature Book Club Facebook Group!
Nature Book Club theme for May is Amphibians and Reptiles