Life is a Monarch Highway, Maybe

The last few days there have been two Monarch Butterflies fluttering around the front garden. I hope they are a mating pair.

Monarch on Mexican Sunflower

Watching the Monarchs in the front garden reminded me about an article I had just read about an interesting project called the Monarch Highway. I came upon this article through a post on the Lurie Garden’s Facebook page. (Have you liked the Lurie Garden on Facebook? Well, why not?)

I 35
Interstate 35

The Monarch Highway is a joint project of various state, federal, and private agencies and organizations. The idea is to restore Monarch habitat along roadside stretches of Interstate 35. which runs from the Canadian to the Mexican border through six states and the heart of the Monarch migration.

Monarch on Sweet Joe Pye Weed


There are millions of acres taken up by roadsides, and this land may provide an important resource for Monarch conservation. In addition, the Monarch Highway would seek to create other Monarch habitat on available land within 100 miles of I-35.

MonarchHighway logo

Some scientists are urging caution. They fear that the value of the Monarch Highway would be cancelled by more Monarch deaths caused by vehicle collisions. However, others are confident that the Monarch Highway will contribute greatly to restoring the Monarch migration. At this point there is no conclusive evidence either way.

I hope the Monarch Highway is a success, but we’re not likely to know for several years. In the meantime, ordinary gardeners in the path of the Monarch migration can continue to avoid pesticides and provide these beautiful creatures with the plants that sustain them.

25 Comments on “Life is a Monarch Highway, Maybe”

  1. I hope that it will mean more butterflies. I have seen 1 butterfly so far this summer. Really disappointing. From other bloggers I can hear that butterflies are in decline. The bees are also under pressure, with many bee families dead this winter. It is so sad. I provide nettles in my garden for the butterflies, and would never even consider pesticides. But sadly the farmers who have the most land, still use a lot of insectisides.

  2. Thanks for the tip! We are just a couple of miles from I-35 in KC, so I will check this out. I have the Joe Pye Weed, and FINALLY got several kinds of milkweed to come back for me and actually bloom this year. It blows my mind how I can see it so many places, but it wouldn’t work for me! I haven’t seen any monarchs yet, but this week has been so ridiculously hot that I haven’t actually been outside longer than it takes to water the pots.

  3. I’ve wondered about deaths from vehicles given that the monarch highway would be just along the I35 corridor. Certainly Austin drivers would contribute to that–unfortunately. That said, anything we can do to augment the habitat of these pollinators is a good thing. You’re correct though–I think quite a bit of the effort will rely on individual gardeners continuing to supply healthy habitat.

  4. I like the idea of creating habitat along highway roadsides – it’s sure better than mowed grass! I saw a monarch yesterday nectaring on a small patch of common milkweed (along with a LOT of other flower visitors) — the patch was next to a local lake; it’s much bigger than it was last year, and currently at its peak in terms of flowering (and attractiveness). I didn’t have a camera yesterday when I was walking there, but hope to get an image soon!

  5. I did finally have a Monarch yesterday afternoon – after not having seen one since May – in the front yard on the no-longer-blooming common milkweed. It wouldn’t wait until I got my camera but I was happy to see it. Meanwhile the common milkweed keeps increasing.

  6. We just had a monarch last week visit our common milkweed patch, which was almost spent but had one bloom remaining. I did not see it visit our butterfly weed (orange flowers), and our swamp milkweed was not yet in bloom. We’re in northeastern MA. I sure hope the highway works!! I would think that any little bit would help.

  7. I think Monarch Highway seems a great idea, although some butterflies may be lost to traffic, many others will thrive. Hopefully the plan gets some media attention and it highlights the plight of the Monarch across several states.

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