Monarch butterfly sightings have exploded across Wisconsin, how identifying milkweed can help

WISCONSIN -- Monarch butterfly sightings have exploded in the month of June across Wisconsin and we'll have them all summer long! According to, they have already been spotted across Lake Superior in Canada.

Sighting map for the month of June for Monarch Butterflies

The monarch butterfly is one of America's most famous insects and also one of it's most well-traveled. As our months warm, these butterflies follow the growth of milkweed plants north. Over the course of the summer, multiple generations of monarchs grow up before heading back to Mexico for winter.


Monarch population numbers can fluctuate drastically due to disease and pesticides. One thing you can do to help their population is to identify common milkweed on your property and let it grow and leave it alone! This plant has an oval leaf shape and is generally taller than the surrounding vegetation. Once you pluck the leaf from the plant an oozy white liquid comes out that kind of looks like milk, thus the name milkweed.

Milkweed plant that is the exclusive diet of Monarch Caterpillars that'll you'll find in Wisconsin

Be careful when plucking leaves because you just might have a caterpillar on the underside of it.

To hide from predators and avoid rain, you'll often find the caterpillars or small white egg on the underside of the leaf. Look for large chew marks in leaves that could indicate there's already a caterpillar on your milkweed.

This plant can be found all over from train tracks to forest edges, once you learn to identify it you'll be able to spot it all over.

FOX6's Eric Manges' very own Monarch named Thiccy Smalls

As a caterpillar, they're racing to become a butterfly as fast as possible. If you choose to care for one on your own you'll need to supply a fresh leaf each day. To prevent leaves from drying out, have a damp paper towel at the base of your container. While they only eat milkweed, they can be adventurous so make sure your container has a lid with small holes in it.

After a couple weeks your caterpillar will enter its chrysalis phase which will cocoon for another two weeks before emerging as a butterfly. Not every monarch will survive but it can be a fun lesson for you and your family to learn about this amazing insect.

Small Monarch caterpillar munching away at a milkweed leaf