The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission Park Rangers have select meadow sites throughout the county that are managed as Monarch Waystations. Monarch Waystations are areas that are dedicated to creating and/or preserving habitats for migrating monarch butterflies and their larva (caterpillars). In order to be successful, waystations must include both nectar plants and milkweed plants. The nectar plants are important for the butterflies to feed on as adults. The milkweed plants are critical because they are the only plant on which the monarch butterflies lay their eggs and the only plant that their caterpillars eat.
The iconic orange, black, and white monarch butterflies are notable for their yearly migration through the United States and Canada to Mexico and southern California. In recent years, the population of these butterflies has dramatically declined. Over the past two decades, the population is thought to have decreased by 90%. Habitat loss and herbicide usage in agricultural fields have greatly affected the population of milkweed plants, which are critical for monarch egg laying and caterpillars survival.
Through the creation of Monarch Waystations, the M-NCPPC Park Rangers are creating habitats to encourage monarch butterflies to thrive. We hope these habitats will help bring the monarch population back to where it once was. Contact the Park Ranger Office at (301) 627-7755 for information regarding the programs/activities.