It is not surprising, then, that most of the flowers Monarch Butterflies like best are “common weeds" in the places where they grow well. Besides, the overwintering monarchs appear to be toxic with age. If you look at a monarch butterfly's head, you will see its proboscis, a long "straw," curled up below its mouth. ), Goldenrod, Indian Hemp, Ironweed, Lantana,Liatris (Blazing Star), Lilac (Syringa), Milkweed, Pincushion Flowers, Red Clover, Salvia, Sunflowers, Teasel, Thistles, Verbena, Zinnia, Depleting Milkweed Plant Affecting Monarchs. Butterfly mouthparts are made for drinking nectar. Relevance. ), Cosmos, Dame’s Rocket, Echinacea (coneflower, especially purple coneflower), Erysimum (Siberian Wallflower), Eupatorium (boneset, Joe Pye weed, Queen of the Meadow, etc. For decades, entomologists assumed that birds didn't eat monarch butterflies because they didn't like the taste. As a member of the daisy family, cosmos flowers are appealing to Monarch butterflies because of their abundant flowers and rich nectar stores. However, some tidy individuals will eat their old skins after they crawl out in their new ones. When milkweed blooms, its blooms are one of the favorite Monarch Butterfly food plants. Monarch butterfly caterpillars will eat only milkweed, and cannot feed on any other plant. The adult Monarch Butterfly eats through its tubular proboscis, so it can consume only liquids. ), Goldenrod, Indian Hemp, Ironweed, Lantana,Liatris (Blazing Star), Lilac (Syringa), Milkweed, Pincushion Flowers, Red Clover, Salvia, Sunflowers, Teasel, Thistles, Verbena, Zinnia For starters, the larvae (caterpillars) of monarch butterflies eat ONLY milkweed, this is why the monarch butterfly is dubbed the ‘milkweed butterfly’. In this way the hungry caterpillars can eat almost continuously without damaging the milkweed plant. Monarchs aren’t so keen on rotten meat or vegetables, but they do like day-old, mushy fruit. If you look at a monarch butterfly's head, you will see its proboscis, a long "straw," curled up below its mouth. When they hatch, the first things they eat are the tiny eggshells out of which they just crawled. The stage of a caterpillar’s life that it spends in each skin is called an instar. Monarch caterpillars eat the leaves of milkweed plants, which belong to the family ​Asclepiadaceae. During the spring migration, butterflies must have access to larval food plants and nectar plants. If you can’t offer flowers to butterflies, you can buy butterfly feeders that dispense sugar solutions. Favorite Answer. The pupa inside a Monarch Butterfly chrysalis is undergoing a makeover so extreme we don’t know exactly how it transforms. First, you have to realize that there are a lot of butterfly food sources; you just have to look for them! The adult Monarch Butterfly eats through its tubular proboscis, so it can consume only liquids. If I recall correctly, Monarchs eat a plant called "Milkweed". North America has several dozen native milkweed species with which monarchs coevolved and upon which they rely to complete their life cycle. As Caterpillars. You can get started one of two ways: raising your own from a kit or ordering newborn monarch butterflies through the mail. Female Monarch Butterflies spend most of their time looking for milkweed plants. In NZ the natural food species of the monarch ( Danaus plexippus) larvae is the Asclepiadiae family – milkweed which includes swan plant ( Gomphocarpus fruticosus) and giant swan plant ( G. physocarpus) as well as Asclepias species such as tropical milkweed/bloodflower ( A. curassavica ). They arrived in the Hawaii islands around 1850, not long after the introduction of the host plants Asclepias curassavica, also known as the tropical milkweed, and later, Calotropis gigantea, the crown flower. Monarch butterflies are also an important food source for birds, small animals, and other insects. Insects > Monarch Butterflies > What Do Monarchs Eat? First, you have to realize that there are a lot of monarch butterfly food sources; you just have to look for them! Do not try to offer them alternate food plants. Nectar and pollen are the main food of butterflies. Monarch Watch has a nice ​guide to milkweeds for adventurous butterfly gardeners who want to try something different. Debbie Hadley is a science educator with 25 years of experience who has written on science topics for over a decade. If you are interested in raising caterpillars to butterflies then you will also want to plant what the caterpillars eat. 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