Enjoy The Beauty Of Migrating Monarch Butterflies In PA

Enjoy The Beauty Of Migrating Monarch Butterflies In PA

Summertime has so many benefits. Your body soaks up plenty of vitamin D from the sun. The fresh air gives us the energy we lacked during the winter months. And we get to enjoy some of our favorite activities like picnicking, fishing, swimming in the community pool, outdoor concerts, parades, and so much more. 

One of the best parts of the summer is also one of the most fleeting: the chance to enjoy the sight of a beautiful Monarch butterfly fluttering in the gentle breeze. 

Each summer, Monarch butterflies visit our state to fill our skies and offer us the opportunity to see their beauty up close. 

But what draws these butterflies to our region? And how can we ensure that they’ll continue to make PA their home for the summer?

Keep reading to find out more about Monarch butterfly migration in Pennsylvania!

Monarch Butterfly Migration 101  

Each year, Monarch butterflies make a long journey from Mexico and select Southern states to the Northeast states. The purpose of this journey: to lay the eggs that will become the next generation of these beautiful butterflies. 

In Pennsylvania, Monarch butterflies begin to appear in spring. Depending on the respective climate and temperatures, some PA regions may spot their first Monarch in May while others will see their first Monarchs in June.

So why do these butterflies make a 3,000-mile journey from the South to Pennsylvania each year to lay their eggs? They’re looking for a particular plant that’s native to our state.

Monarch butterflies lay their eggs in areas that are rich with Milkweed. A few days later, those eggs will hatch hungry Monarch caterpillars who love to eat Milkweed plants. They’ll need plenty of tasty Milkweed to help them grow and start the next phase in their life cycle. 

After about two weeks of feasting on Milkweed, the fully-grown caterpillar will find a nice place to attach itself and begin the pupa stage of its life cycle. In this stage, the caterpillar forms a shell called a chrysalis that protects them as they metamorphosize into their final stage of life. 

In a few weeks, the metamorphosis is complete, the chrysalis hatches and out flies a beautiful orange and black Monarch Butterfly. 

Throughout July and August, you’ll see these gorgeous butterflies filling the skies in areas that are filled with Milkweed.

As the summer ends and fall begins, these butterflies begin their journey back to the Southern states and Mexico to start their life cycle all over again. 

By the time they return to Pennsylvania in the following spring, those Monarch butterflies will be the great grandchildren of the butterflies that left our state during the previous fall. 

So where can you find Monarch butterflies in your area? The answer may be closer than you think! 

Create Your Own Monarch Butterfly Habitat 

So we know that Monarch butterflies lay their eggs in locations where Milkweed plants are plentiful. 

Since Milkweed is native to Pennsylvania and grows in the wild, many local parks and agencies are developing habitats lush with this plant to attract Monarch butterflies and ensure a successful migration season. 

In addition to creating habitats in public places, local and state agencies are also encouraging PA residents to create their own Monarch butterfly habitats in their backyards and gardens. 

In the past few years, winter weather in Southern states (such as the devastating winter storm that hit Texas in 2021) has negatively impacted the growth of Milkweed. Since butterflies need this food source for repopulation, the numbers of butterflies that migrated to Pennsylvania over the past couple of years has decreased. 

To help boost the Monarch butterfly population, you can plant Milkweed seeds and flowers that attract these pollinators. Many local schools, agencies and businesses offer Monarch butterfly kits filled with Milkweed and pollinator seeds to plant in your home garden to create your own Monarch butterfly habitat. 

Or you can always visit your local gardening center, farmer’s market or nursery to pick up packets of Milkweed, purple coneflower, California poppy, sunflower and lupin seeds for a homegrown habitat. 

Stay Informed 

Now you know why PA is a popular summertime spot for Monarch butterflies, when and where to watch them, and how you can create your own habitat to ensure their visit next spring!

We hope you found this article informative! If you enjoyed this look at Monarch butterfly migration and would like to learn more about all of the great things happening in our local parks and throughout our great state, please subscribe to the Good For PA newsletter