Environment & Conservation

Close-up of an orange and black butterfly perched on a group of small, unopened flowers

How Milkweeds Can Save Monarch Butterflies And Beautify Your Garden

Did you know milkweeds aren’t really weeds at all? In fact, they’re native plants with large pink, orange, or white flowers. In addition to their charm, plants in the genus Asclepias are the host plants for the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), meaning they are the only food for the monarch larvae, or caterpillars. Without milkweeds, the monarch butterfly has no chance for survival.

Three different kinds of flowers: small, bright orange flowers; bright pink flowers with a yellow butterfly perched on top; and a light pink flower with a bumblebee on it

Roll Up Your Sleeves: How to Grow Native Plants in Your Garden

If you’re gearing up to add native plants to your yard this spring, then congratulations! You’ll make your space more beautiful, with the added bonus of being hospitable to the butterflies and other pollinators (like bees, beetles, and birds) around you.  Before you start (literally) digging in, take a moment to plan the layout of the garden (or a small strip of land along a fence—the pollinators will appreciate that as well). While doing this, take the following into consideration:

A bright orange and black butterfly on a purple flower with yellow center

Every Flower Counts: Five Reasons to Add Native Plants to Your Garden

Chicagoland used to be a vast prairie buzzing with life and supporting thousands of species of insects, birds, and other animals. As the area was developed and farmed, the landscape became fragmented, leading to the demise of many animal and plant populations. A recent—and very much publicized—effect has been the decline of the monarch butterfly, an insect that migrates annually from Mexico to Canada, spending a lot of time in the Midwest along the way.

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