Milkweeds (Asclepias spp.) are the sole hostplant for monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus). Monarch caterpillars must consume milkweeds to survive. As monarchs are facing drastic declines, largely tied to loss of plant habitat, the Garden’s pollinator conservation program is researching the best milkweeds native to Arizona to support monarchs.
Arizona is of particular importance in monarch conservation as it is at the intersection of the eastern and western migratory populations. The state holds more than 30 different milkweed taxa, one of the highest diversities in the United States. To determine which milkweeds are best for restoring or creating new monarch habitat, our team is researching monarch interactions with milkweeds from multiple angles.
Pegram, K.V., Melkonoff, N.A. 2020. Assessing preference and survival of Danaus plexippus on two western species of Asclepias. Journal of Insect Conservation. 24: 287-295.