Alright followers, subscribers, visitors, friends and Eurekans -- I want to take a moment to deliver some wonderful news. Millions (yes, I said millions) of monarch butterflies are headed straight for Arkansas this Spring!
Although timing depends on seasonal patterns, weather conditions and storm activity, reports currently show that millions of monarch butterflies have already left the mountains of Mexico and are planning their migration through our gorgeous State of Arkansas this Spring, 2023.
This vast butterfly population is touted to be significantly higher than previous years'.
Are you ready?
No? Well, here is how you can get ready for these beautiful, joyful creatures headed for Eureka Springs.
Planting milkweed is perfect for monarchs but it is also a great way to help other pollinators, too, as they provide valuable nectar resources to a diverse suite of bees and other butterflies. For a brief how-to flyer on planting and gardening, download MJV's Gardening for Monarchs.
As many of you know, adult monarchs drink the nectar of many flowers, in addition to milkweed; in fact they need sources of nectar to nourish them throughout the entire growing season. Be sure to include a variety of native flowering species with different bloom times to provide monarchs with the food they need to reproduce in the spring and summer and to migrate in the fall. Offering a wide array of native nectar plants will attract monarchs and many other butterflies and pollinators to your habitat all season long.
Download this milkweed fact sheet for a list of milkweed species prioritized in our region. These species are known to be used by monarchs and easy to establish in our gardens and fields here in Arkansas.
Key Habitat Considerations
Please know that a habitat can be created in any open space protected from untimely mowing or pesticide application.
Native milkweeds provide food for monarch caterpillars.
Native flowers provide food for adult butterflies. A combination of early, middle and late blooming species, with overlap in flowering times, will fuel butterfly breeding and migration and provide beautiful blooms season-long.
Insecticides should never be used in or surrounding pollinator habitat. Limit use of herbicides within and surrounding the habitat only to control invasive or noxious weeds.
BREAKING NEWS - the New Years' monarch migration is just ONE of the swells that Arkansas will see this year. (2023)
The first surge comes from the generation of butterflies from Mexico knows as, "The New Year's Generation." This is the surge that we will experience in Spring 2023 here.
The first surge will continue north and lay many eggs for the second generation, which will be another big swell expected in September 2023.
This second generation will hold off on laying eggs until they've returned to Mexico which means they'll have a much longer lifespan (up to eight months.)
So, once again, an easy way to aid in the creation of countless butterflies in and around Eureka Springs is to plant milkweed, their favorite plant. This will not only allow them food but also sustenance for laying more eggs.
What else can you do?
The Arkansas Game & Fish Commission (AGFC) has another way to help. Any time you see a monarch you can log in here to inaturalist.org. Their mapping project offers insightful research to a number of studies. For example, the AGFC is using it to see the positive butterfly effects of native prairie restoration.
Although Eureka Springs overtaken by monarchs sounds like a truly amazing experience there is another magical (local) place to visit to get your fix of monarchs. Fayetteville’s Botanical Garden of the Ozarks houses a garden with the State’s only butterfly house, which you can read more about here.
In Arkansas, State parks often host different butterfly events throughout the season, so no matter if you plan a weekend getaway to one of our national forests or just take more time to sit in your backyard, the monarch migration will be a treasured sight to see in 2023.
Arkansas has 52 state parks within its borders, each of them offering a variety of different recreation and activities. Petit Jean State Park in Conway County, opened in 1923, was the state’s first ever park and features hiking trails, waterfalls, caves, canyons, and much more within its 3,471 acres. At Lake Charles State Park in Lawrence County, you’ll be at the base of the 47,000-square-mile Ozark Mountains. Here, you hike one of the four trails, swim at the beach during season, camp, or just sit down for a nice, scenic picnic. And don’t forget Hot Springs National Park in Garland County. Here, you can explore 5,500 acres, which includes hiking, biking, fishing, and of course, soaking in the thermal water.
My three favorite Eureka Springs' Hiking Trails are . . .
1. LEATHERWOOD LOOP TRAIL
The Leatherwood Loop Trail stretches 3.4 miles in length and leads you around the stunning Lake Leatherwood. The moderate-level trail is perfect for a late morning hike lasting two to three hours. If you’re interested in a full day of hiking, Lake Leatherwood Park has a number of fabulous interwoven trails such as the Beacham Trail, which connects to the Leatherwood Loop. Take a look at the Lake Leatherwood map to see all of the park trails!
2. BLACK BASS LAKE TRAIL
For a short and sweet hike, head to the Black Bass Lake Trail. This 1.8-mile trail is good for all skill levels and will take you approximately one hour to hike. Enjoy views of Black Bass Lake which is surrounded by stunning bluffs and towering pines. One of the most scenic trails in Eureka Springs, Black Bass Lake Trail is great for a casual afternoon hike. We suggest packing a picnic and enjoying it at the picnic table area near the entrance to the hike! You can view a trail map here.
3. BEAVER LAKE LOOP TRAIL
Just outside of Eureka Springs near Garfield, Arkansas, you’ll find the 4.7-mile Beaver Lake Trail. This moderate-level trail will take you approximately three hours to complete and offers fabulous views of the water and the opportunity to see plenty of wildlife. It’s the perfect place if you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path hike.
If you take some time on these trails to immerse yourself in breathtaking nature while you look for monarch butterflies, you're in for a wonderful experience. Also, while in Arkansas, you should try one of our many other hiking trails all around the State.
There are so many things to do in Eureka Springs when visiting us here in Springtime but this monarch butterfly migration is surely something you'll want to experience in 2023. Of course, you'll likely have to come back and visit us again to see other things that Eureka Springs' has to offer, but that's OK by us, our locals welcome visitors year-round from places far and wide.
Plan your Spring visit to Eureka Springs now. We boast a beautiful wilderness setting adjacent to Beaver Lake that’s utterly perfect for outdoor Springtime recreation like camping, hiking, water sports, nature and much, much more.
The monarchs are coming! The monarchs are coming! 🦋 Are you ready?