Monarchs and Milkweed

In this activity, you will try out your detective skills by being a Biology Detective! Document your process with notes and photos. 

Visit your local library and look up monarch butterflies and milkweed plants. Get familiar with what they both look like, as well as the different species of milkweed. Monarchs have just recently been listed as an Endangered Species. Read about the journey of a Monarch butterfly during its lifetime. Some great resources to start with can be found on Monarchs Across Georgia (MAG).

Next, look up native milkweed species for Georgia. Once you know which species you’re looking for, contact local nurseries or botanical gardens in your area to see if they sell those species of milkweed. If you need help with this step, refer to the MAG Field Guide.

Egg-laying Monarch butterflies are in their second laying period of the year (April-May & August-September) so if you can buy native milkweed, plant some around your yard. You can then continue your detective skills by watching their eating habits, egg-laying, and look for a chrysalis.

Photo by Steven Smith

Keep their chrysalis safe by checking on it and making sure nothing is damaging it but do not move it once it has formed! Continue to watch until it hatches. If there is no available milkweed at nurseries near you, check your local botanical garden during their next plant sale -or- order seeds online from reputable sources and plan ahead for next year.

Fun Fact: Did you know that a cocoon is specific to a moth, while a chrysalis is specific to a butterfly?! Pupa and chrysalis have the same meaning: the transformation stage between the larva and the adult. Pupa can refer to a moth or butterfly.

Activity is open to all ages and meets the needs or can be combined with other activities for the following Georgia Standards of Excellence: 4-6th Grade Science. Activity can be adapted for older ages and still meet certain standards.

  • S4L1. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about the roles of organisms and the flow of energy within an ecosystem.
  • S5L1. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information to group organisms using scientific classification procedures.
  • S5L3. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information to compare and contrast the parts of plant and animal cells.
  • S6E3. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information to recognize the significant role of water in Earth processes.
  • S6E4. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about how the sun, land, and water affect climate and weather.

Additional Resources: Sign up for the Monarchs Across Georgia (MAG) Newsletter here:!form/Chrysalis