Visitors to Myriad Botanical Gardens in OKC last week enjoyed watching the butterflies feed.
Every spring and fall, Oklahomans watch the brightly decorated orange and black butterflies stop in the state during their twice-yearly, mile-long migrations.
The lifespan of a migratory monarch butterfly is two to six weeks, although butterflies born at the end of summer live eight to nine months to be able to make the journey south and spend the winter huddled in trees in Mexico and California. In the spring, they head to their spring and summer breeding grounds and migrate as far north as the southern parts of Canada.
The species was listed as threatened with extinction in 2022, with their numbers continually dwindling due to habitat loss and climate change.
Some monarchs have already been spotted in Oklahoma this fall, but with the peak migration approaching, here’s what you need to know.
When will monarchs migrate through Oklahoma?
The peak of the monarch’s fall migration through Oklahoma typically occurs in late September and early October.
During this time, dozens of butterflies will be spotted together in trees, on nectar plants and any milkweed that can be found.
Although the numbers do not compare to decades past, it is still exciting to see so many people recording these sightings on the Journey North king migration map.
How to track the 2023 winter monarch migration
If you want to follow the monarch’s winter migration, head to tripnorth.org to see where others have discovered the butterflies, as well as their eggs, caterpillars and milkweed plants.
You can also add your own scenes to the map.
Best Places to See Kings in Oklahoma City
Monarchs are often attracted to parks and gardens where milkweed and native nectar plants can be found.
In Oklahoma, mobile moths are most likely to be found near Interstate 35.
more: The U.S. Geological Survey is asking Oklahoma residents to mail in dead butterflies and moths for a pollution study
The destinations that Oklahoma City royalty seem to enjoy year after year include:
- Countless botanical gardens
- Will Rogers Gardens
- Lake Hefner
- Oklahoma City Zoo
Where to find milkweed and nectar plants for monarchs
Although the fall migration is already underway, it’s not too late to help monarchs with your plant choices. Monarchs benefit from planting done in the spring, summer or fall, according to Okies for Monarchs.
This can be any native nectar plant, especially milkweed so that the butterflies have a place to lay their eggs and start the next generation. For fall planting, it is best to choose perennials that die back in the winter but come back in the spring. The first frost is usually around November 1.
Okies for Monarchs has many tips on building a garden suitable for monarchs and other pollinators, such as where and how to plant, garden size, and other butterfly-friendly features you can add.
Some local nurseries that sell native plants and milkweed include: