If you don’t see Milkweed plants, you won’t see Monarch Butterflies. It is that simple.
Every city dweller can help by planting their native Milkweed; anywhere and everywhere. Milkweed is required for Monarch Butterflies to reproduce. This means they cannot reproduce without Milkweed. Therefore, if you don’t see Milkweed plants, you won’t see Monarch Butterflies. If you want to see Monarch Butterflies, you will need to plant more Milkweed!
The simplest and best way to help is to create a butterfly garden. Even if its just one Milkweed plant found at the hardware store, it will make a difference. Plant it somewhere in the sunshine and maybe water it for a couple weeks to get it started. Commit to keeping Milkweed plants around because of the butterflies it brings, and don’t think about that whole “weed” part of its name, or if they turn ugly sometimes. Everyone’s yard should include butterfly larval host plants, especially Milkweed.
Another way for the city-dweller to help is to find, and remove, invasive species in alleyways, or under-maintained urban area, and sprinkle Milkweed seeds in their place. Then do it again in another place. Johnny has been known to carry a little glass vial full of Milkweed seeds just in the case the right spot shows itself. He just refills it each time he goes out.
A third way might be to find a local Community Garden, and request a plot, which are usually free. Fill this with Milkweed plants or seeds, and your neighbors will thank you, as will the many different pollinators that will visit your plot along with the Monarch Butterfly.
A more enterprising approach might be to find untended or under-tended areas attached to businesses, and ask if they would like a butterfly garden installed. Many times, business owners are happy to fund plants and soil and mulch for someone willing to handle the labor for free. Beautification of the city is appreciated by all. But even if the business can’t help purchase plants, the invasives can be pulled, and Milkweed seeds can be sown at very little cost to anyone.
Further, most schools and libraries already have space dedicated to a butterfly garden, but lack the volunteers to help tend it. They are usually more than happy to have anyone willing to help. Be careful though, they may have a grand plan in the works, so make sure you get permission.
Before you know it, the neighborhood will be swarming with Monarch Butterflies… one day at a time.