There are many different types of wildlife you may spot during your visit to The Dawes Arboretum. One of our favorites from Spring to Fall is butterflies! With our wide variety of plants and ecosystems, we normally get to say hello to various species of butterflies including Pearl Crescents, Clouded Sulphurs, Monarchs, Viceroys, Commas, Cabbage Whits, Tiger Swallowtails and many more!


How to Find Butterflies at Dawes

When searching for our beautiful winged friends at The Arboretum, we recommend starting at the Red Barn Reserve. At the reserve, you will find all the butterfly information you need along our pollinator path. The pollinator path is a series of interpretive signage that shares identification information and key facts about our visiting butterflies.


The Monarch Migration

From August to November, the Monarch population makes their great migration from the northeast parts of the U.S. and Canada all the way to Mexico (almost 3,000 miles!).

This annual migration at The Dawes Arboretum is a large part of the research we conduct around the species. We will rear wild collected monarch caterpillars through all stages until they become a breathtaking monarch butterfly. The Arboretum also participates in Monarch Watch, a tagging program to tag adult monarch butterflies and track their southern migration.

The best time to see the Monarchs at The Arboretum is by far August and September. Our prairies on the main grounds, the Red Barn Reserve and the Dutch Fork Wetlands have the best opportunity for viewing.


Conservation is Key

The Arboretum takes the role we play in protecting and preserving the wildlife we interact with every day very seriously. By planting native prairie and plants, the conservationists create safe and natural habitats for the butterflies.  

Associations with plants, or pollinator host plants, such as milkweed and monarchs or spicebush swallowtail and spicebush are very important. The conservation team at the Arboretum propagate and grow many of these important plants. and they are available to purchase during our plant sales. Be on the lookout for these opportunities!


What Can You Do?

We love the opportunity to share different ways that the community can get involved in our research and conservation efforts for all wildlife. One way you can specifically help the butterflies is by planting native plants and adding prairie plants to your landscapes at home. Adding just one habitat can make all the difference for our fluttery friends. 

Also, if you happen to stumble across a chrysalis, please let it be! While it might look tough, it can be extremely delicate. The chrysalis are often difficult to spot as they blend in with their surroundings very well. This is a defense mechanism to protect the growing butterfly.


If you have questions about what plants to include at your home for butterflies or how to visit The Dawes Arboretum to see the Monarch Migration, please contact us today!