AUSTIN (KXAN) – Central Texas has seen a lot of butterflies recently. The American Snout has found its way to our area, but it won’t be the last butterfly in Austin. According to local butterfly experts, the king of all butterflies will arrive in the southwest in the coming weeks: the monarch butterfly.
Each fall, the monarch butterfly migrates from Canada through Central Texas and then into Mexico. Thousands upon thousands of these beautiful insects can be seen in our skies through October and early November.
Meteorologist Kristen Currie spoke with Dan Hardy, president of the Austin Butterfly Forum, about monarch season. You can watch the interview above or read the transcript below to learn more.
Kristen Currie, KXAN News: “As many of you have probably noticed more butterflies around Central Texas recently. So joining me today to talk about that is Dan Hardy with the Austin Butterfly Forum. Talk to me a little bit about the role Austin, Central Texas plays in the monarch migration.”
Dan Hardy, Austin Butterfly Forum: “We’re right in the central flyway, and we’re going to see in the next few weeks, it’ll be… maybe this week, maybe the second week of October going into the end of October, beginning of November.”
“Those are monarchs that are moving down through Central Texas, they became adults or emerged as adults, maybe in southern Canada. And those are steadily moving all the way down as adults through Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and they’ll reach Texas for this coming month on their way to their roosting sites in Mexico.”
Currie: “And then do they come back then in the spring?”
Hardy: “Yes, those ones are going into Mexico. At the end of the winter, the females start moving north, laying eggs. We might be the first group they get or the second group that gets to us.”
“But, eventually, that first group of females will die and the next generation picks up. It’s kind of like handing the baton to somebody in a relay race. So we will see monarchs back here in March and April.”
Currie: “Is there anything we can do in our yards or… in our backyards that would help butterflies?”
Hardy: “Two things that can attract butterflies are… one is, you know, nectar for pollen for food. But the biggest thing people don’t think about is food, plants for the caterpillars. Because all the caterpillars… have very particular diets. They’re very finicky eaters.”
“So if they don’t see the right food, they die off. For example, monarchs need milkweeds snouts need hackberries, fritillaries need passion vines. So if you plant those things in your yard, you’ll attract the butterflies that will lay eggs and you’ll have a new generation appear.”