Give Monarch butterflies a leg up on their flight north

Emily Sampson
Special to Black Mountain News | USA TODAY NETWORK
Monarch butterflies are getting ready to hatch and will soon need milkweed nectar to fly north.

If you have been looking for Monarch butterflies in the Swannanoa Valley the past couple of weeks, you've probably been disappointed.  There are very few Monarchs flying about anywhere right now.

But don't be alarmed - they're here in a different form. If you want to see Monarchs right now, your best bet is to look for them in the egg, caterpillar or chrysalis form. If you don't have milkweed in your own garden, you can look for them on milkweed plants in the Monarch Waystation - a half acre of meadow containing hundreds of milkweed plants - just below the John D. Wilson Community Garden in Black Mountain.

Beginning in early March, Monarchs fly north from their overwintering grounds - a small, pine forest reserve in the mountains of central Mexico - to begin searching for milkweed in North America. By now, most of those butterflies, the Methuselah generation, have already laid eggs somewhere in the Southern U.S. and have died.  It takes about a month to complete the cycle from egg to adult butterfly. 

According to local butterfly enthusiasts and Journey North, a citizen science organization that tracks the Monarch migration, some of those Monarchs began showing up in Western North Carolina in mid-April. The offspring of those monarchs will be hatching over the next couple of weeks in our area and will then continue the journey north. 

Want to make the Black Mountain Monarch Waystation way better for Monarchs to refuel and reproduce?  The next workday at the waystation is Thursday, June 14 at 10 a.m. Park at the end of White Pine Drive behind the Grey Eagle Arena and meet just below the community garden. RSVP and learn more from Emily Sampson at or on Facebook (Monarch Waystations of Black Mountain).

What: Monarch Waystation workday

When: 10 a.m. June 14

Where: Beside John Wilson Community Garden