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Kalamazoo County 4-H Bee & Pollinator Club Spring Focus - Monarchs and Milkweed

Warmer weather is finally here and members of the Kalamazoo County 4-H Bee & Pollinator Club are busy learning the life cycle of the monarch butterfly and planting milkweed seeds to help increase the population of this beautiful insect.

During the regular fourth Tuesday meeting of the 4-H project club, participants viewed an in-depth monarch presentation by Vidhay Reddy of Great Lakes Bee Supply. Here are a few highlights:

1. Monarch butterflies begin life as an egg that eats its eggshell and then exclusively eats milkweed plants.

2. From egg to larva to caterpillar, the tiny creature becomes fat, juicy, and colorful from feasting on the milkweed.

3. The caterpillar metamorphoses into a hard-cased pupa stage where it hangs from plant material in a casing also known as a chrysalis.

4. From egg to adult, it takes a monarch about a month to complete its life cycle. Once fully hatched, adults live just two-to-five weeks.

After the presentation, members gathered peat pots, seed-starting soil, and milkweed seeds to start the planting process for a garden of milkweed to attract monarch butterflies and other pollinators.

In May, club members will carefully place specially ordered monarch chrysalises into an aquarium, and Wrifton Graham of Great Lakes Bee Supply plans to connect a webcam for online viewing of the metamorphosis at

Did you know?

-Millions of monarch butterflies travel up to 3,000 miles each year

-One butterfly weighs 0.0095 to 0.026 oz

-Male monarchshave two black spots – one on each hind wing that females do not have

-Predators avoid eating monarchs – the poisonous nature of the monarch comes from the bitter, toxic compounds in milkweed consumed by larva and caterpillar life cycle stages

Interested in joining the Kalamazoo County 4-H Bee & Pollinator Club? Click on the 4-H clover on the main web page to learn how.

For more information about the serious plight of the monarch butterfly:

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