Creating Large-Scale Monarch Habitat

Establishing a 1 acre forb planting from fescue or sod (fall start)

Monarch Caterpillar
  1. Burn, mow, hay, or graze in August or early September. Allow regrowth for two weeks.
  2. Spray with 2 quart/acre of glyphosate herbicide (or a 2 percent solution) in mid-September.
  3. Spray with 1 quart/acre of glyphosate herbicide (or a 1 percent solution) in mid-October.
  4. Spray with 1 quart/acre glyphosate (or a 1 percent solution) in early November, but before a hard freeze. A third herbicide treatment is preferred, but not always possible depending on weather.
  5. Burn residual duff (dead vegetation) if needed in late November to December.
  6. Mix 5 pounds recommended forb seed with kitty litter, and broadcast on burned area from December through mid-February.
  7. Immediately roll, harrow, or drive over the seed with ATV tires to ensure good seed and soil contact.
  8. Follow up treatment with grass selective herbicide, including clethodim (Select) or sethoxydim (Poast), may be necessary the next spring. 
  9. First growing season: Frequently mow to height of 8 inches to remove competitive annual weeds. 
  10. Second growing season: Sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Note: periodic burning (about once every three years) will help maintain vigor of the forbs.

Establish a 1 acre forb planting from fescue or sod (spring start)

  1. Burn, mow, hay, or graze in early spring. Allow regrowth to reach 6 to 8 inches.
  2. Spray with 2 quart/acre of glyphosate herbicide (or a 2 percent solution).
  3. Mow annual weeds as needed to keep them from going to seed from June to July.
  4. Spray with 1 quart/acre glyphosate herbicide (or a 1 percent solution) in August.
  5. Mow annual weeds as needed to keep them from going to seed.
  6. Spray with 1 quart/acre glyphosate herbicide (or a 1 percent solution) in October.
  7. At this point the steps are the same for both fall and spring starts. Follow steps 5-10 described in the fall start section. 

Note: periodic burning (about once every three years) will help maintain vigor of the forbs.

Alternative methods for eliminating sod

These steps work for both fall and spring starts.

  1. Plant glyphosate tolerant crops for two years on site.
  2. Using a tarp or plastic to cover grass for two weeks at a time in August, September, and October.  It’s important to remove tarp to give remaining seed a chance to sprout.
  3. Substitute glyphosate with a mixture of 1 gallon vinegar, 1 oz (2 tablespoons) dish soap, and 1 cup salt and follow the previously described steps.

monarch-01.jpg

Monarch Butterfly
Monarch

monarch-02.jpg

Monarch Butterfly
Monarch

monarch-03.jpg

Monarch Butterfly
Monarch

monarch-04.jpg

Monarch Butterfly
Monarch

wildflower.jpg

Wildflowers
Wildflowers

Butterfly_milkweed_01.jpg

Butterfly Milkweed
Butterfly Milkweed

Common-milkweed01.jpg

Common Milkweed
Common Milkweed

Monarch_Caterpillar-01.jpg

Monarch Caterpillar on a butterfly milkweed
Monarch Caterpillar

Monarch_Caterpillar-02.jpg

Monarch Caterpillar
Monarch Caterpillar

Monarch_Caterpillar-03.jpg

Two Monarch Caterpillars eating leaves
Monarch Caterpillar

BraodcastForbs07.JPG

Broadcasting Forb Seed from a tractor on a snow-covered field
Broadcasting Forb Seed
Snow helps you see where you have already broadcasted

DSC00874.JPG

Rolling Forb Seed
Rolling Forb Seed
Yard rollers work ensure good seed/soil contact

DSC02867.JPG

Forb Seed getting dumped in a hopper from a large sack.
Forb Seed
Forbs are light and fluffy

IMG_0360.JPG

ATV Spraying
ATV Spraying
herbicides eliminate unwanted grasses

IMG_0864.JPG

PX Burning Duff
PX Burning Duf
Remove thatch with fire before seeding

McKee-planting-forbs.jpg

Broadcasting Forb Seed from a four-wheeler
Broadcasting Forb Seed
ATV broadcasters work well to sow forbs

Pollinator_Plot_07012016-(2).jpg

A field of wildflowers around a storage building
First Year Maintenance
Mow plots periodically to remove weeds

PrRecon2.JPG

A Cultipacker is pulled behind a tractor on a plowed field.
Cultipacker
Cultipackers are great tools to ensure seed/soil contact

Related Content

Backyard Habitat for Monarch Butterflies

Learn the requirements and plants suitable to make a backyard habitat for monarch butterflies.

Stay in Touch with MDC

Stay in Touch with MDC news, newsletters, events, and manage your subscription

Sign up

Our Magazines

Conservationist Magazine

Our monthly publication about conservation in Missouri--free to all residents.

duck on the water

Xplor Magazine for kids

Xplor helps kids find adventure in their own backyard. Free to residents of Missouri.

spider on a leaf