We and the monarchs have been busy this summer at Tonkadale! Take a minute − or 2 minutes and 57 seconds to be exact − to enjoy this short video which details the monarch life cycle from egg to larva to pupa to butterfly!

Simply fascinating! All of the photos and video footage were taken at Tonkadale. While each photo was not taken of the same exact individual, this gives you a good idea of what goes down from egg to adult. So why is this important to you, to gardeners, to Tonkadale?

Monarchs are an important pollinator, but so are all the other pollinators, right? This is true. So very true. Pollinators − which include bees, birds, butterflies, moths, hummingbirds, bats, beetles − and other vertebrates and invertebrates are responsible for the great biodiversity of the plant world! The bottom line is, they are responsible for one-third of every bite of food we eat.

However, a few key species − including monarch butterflies − receive a lot of attention and that’s okay! You didn’t just watch a bat video and you are probably glad for that. Monarchs are beautiful, their life cycle is interesting, their 3,000-mile migration to Mexico is perplexing and they choose Minnesota as one of their summer homes. How cool is that?!

Monarchs lay their eggs on milkweed. It’s the only food the caterpillars eat. The monarchs that are emerging right now are from the generation that will make the 3,000-mile migration to Mexico. It takes four generations of monarchs (or so) to make it back to here to Minnesota next year. That’s a long journey and they need food. They need a highway, in fact. A butterfly highway, rich with a wide variety of pollen and nectar sources as well as the milkweed to feed the juvenile stages – the caterpillars.

Milkweed is important, but so are a wide range of other blooming plants that live right alongside milkweed. Planting, preserving and promoting milkweed has far-reaching effects. If we save the milkweed, we save these special habitats, too. If you plant milkweed in your yard or garden, you are likely to plant a selection of blooming plants to attract butterflies to your yard as well. This is good.

It doesn’t have to be complicated or perfect or exact, it just has to be thoughtful and intentional. Plant plants. For every pollinator there is a plant and for every plant there is a pollinator (in general at least).

Come visit the monarchs at Tonkadale this week or next. As of Wednesday, we have 15 in the chrysalis stage, and 10 caterpillars are chomping away on their favorite food.

If you can’t make it in, follow Tonkadale on a Facebook or Instagram and the hashtag #themonarchzone. In fact, post your pollinator pics for all to see and for us to find with the hashtags #themonarchzone #pollinatorpledge or #planttheplanet!

See you at Tonkadale! Have a great Labor Day Weekend!! We will be closed Monday so our staff can celebrate the holiday with friends and family.