did you know?

The monarch butterfly population has dropped 80% below the historic average in the last 20 years? There are many factors contributing to its decline, but one major factor is the destruction of the monarch butterfly habitat. Monarch caterpillars feed exclusively on milkweed, which has become less available due to pesticides and prairie destruction. Planting a butterfly garden can provide food and shelter for these beautiful bugs so that they can continue to migrate from North America to Mexico each year.

Located in front of the Latino Cultural Center (East Wall), UIC.  803 S. Morgan St., Lecture Center B2, North & East Wall, Chicago, IL, 60607

Spring/Summer Monarch Migration Route

Establishing a Monarch Butterfly Habitat 

  • Size of Planting Area: at least 100 square feet Exposure: at least 6 hours of sun per day Drainage and Soil
  • Types: low-clay soil with good drainage is ideal Shelter: plants should be close together and spaced, but not overcrowded
  • Milkweed Plants: at least 10 individual milkweed (multiple species is recommended)
  • Nectar Plants: at least 4 annual, biennial, or perennial nectar plants that will provide nectar for the butterflies throughout the seasons
  • Management: water and weed regularly (others: mulch, fertilize, or amend the soil; remove dead stalks; eliminate the use of insecticide; remove invasive plants, and etcetera)


 Different Types of Milkweed

Milkweed plants serve as shelter and food for monarch larvae, which are caterpillars with yellow, black, and white bands. Female monarch butterflies lay their eggs underneath the leaves of milkweed plants, where it is safe from predators. Once the eggs hatch, the caterpillars feed solely on milkweed although the plant’s “milk” or white latex is acidic and somewhat poisonous to many animals. Since the monarch caterpillars feed on milkweed, they absorb some of the plant’s acidic and poisonous substances. The substances are stored in their bodies throughout their life. Therefore, the monarchs taste awful to many of their predators. 

Different Types of Nectar Plants

Nectar plants should be grown in warm and sunny areas that should be protected from wind by large shrubs, hedge rows, or fences. Nectar plants provide nectar for pollinators such as bees and butterflies. Nectar is a kind of sugar water that contains amino acids, proteins, organic acids, and vitamins. It serves as a fuel and is the only source of energy for pollinators. Butterflies need sugar to fuel their search for mates and egg-laying sites. Without nectars, pollinators cannot fly.

  • Indian Blanket (Gaillardia pulchella)
  • Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
  • Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium purpureum)
  • Scarlet Sage (Salvia coccinea)
  • Tithonia Torch, Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia)
  • Zinnia, Dahlia Mix (Zinnia elegans)
  • Blue Sage (Salvia farinacea)
  • Chia (Salvia columbariae)
  • Blazing Star (Liatris)
  • Bergamot or Bee Balm (Monarda fistulosa)
  • Maximilian Sunflower (Heliathus maximilanii)
  • Goldenrod (Solidago rigida, S. speciosa)
  • New England Aster (Aste novae-angliae)

Butterfly Food

  • Milkweed ( Asclepias)
  • Yarrow (Ahillea)
  • Lavender (lavandula)
  • Black eyed susan ( Rudbeckia)
  • Purple coneflower ( Echinacea)