Attracting Monarch Butterflies: Try Parsley

I thought this was interesting on volunteer efforts to create habitat for migrating monarch butterflies.

Here is my advice.  I don't know much about feeding and attracting adult butterflies, but we sure found the recipe to getting caterpillars and cocoons.  When I lived in Texas (Houston to be exact), my dad planted all kinds of flowers and herbs around the yard in pots.  However, each year, the parsley would be absolutely mobbed by monarch butterfly caterpillars.  We soon gave up growing parsley for food and did it just for the butterflies.  Every year, cocoons would start showing up all over our parsley, and on one day a year, we would have a massive monarch butterfly hatch.

  • Onlooker from Troy

    I believe you've got this wrong, Warren. Swallowtails are the ones that feast on parsley, dill and other members of the Apiaceae family of plants. Monarch caterpillars eat milkweed, Asclepias, exclusively. The caterpillars of both resemble each other very closely and so are commonly misidentified.

  • DaveK

    You beat me to it! Some years ago I planted a small crop of anise, then soon discovered they were a favorite food of the Anise Swallowtail!

  • marque2

    I agree, but have to say they are both beautiful butterflies, see how someone unfamiliar with monarchs could mistake swallowtail caterpillars for monarch ones.

  • xpatYankeeCurmudgeon


  • marque2
  • DaveK

    Nice pix!

    There's a website out there devoted to raising Swallowtail butterflies. Here's the link:

  • donald

    I have to say, that as a fairly avid Coyote reader, it's interesting to me the comments on this particular topic. I don't really know why, just that I am amused as the wealth of knowledge of the fan base. normally there isn't so much as a decent response nor factual backup information. But bring up butterflies? on a personal note I was talking with an old Boyscout leader that uses his family farm for the troop headquarters. One of the fields is planted in milkweed to feed the return migration north through the Nashville area.

  • Earl Wertheimer

    I don't know about your neck of the woods, but here in Quebec, milkweed was considered a weed for decades. The city would fine anyone with milkweed growing on their land.
    Now, it's the 'in' weed...

  • marque2

    Milk weed is interesting because it is one of the plants that can produce latex. The fuzz from the Milk weed seed can be used as downy fill for jackets and such. Unfortunately, for milkweed enthusiasts there are much better sources for both, though some folks keep trying to turn it into a crop,