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We raise Monarchs in terrariums in the Orchard store from egg to larva to chrysalis to butterfly. Each fall we tag the migrating generation prior to release. So far we have had six of our tags recovered in their over-wintering grounds in Mexico. Why do we do it? We hatch monarch butterflies to help save them from natural enemies and to delight in the life cycle of this beautiful gift of nature. Each step is exciting every time we experience it and we love to share this experience with our visitors. 
Preserving the natural environment is an important part of our mission and monarch butterflies continue to top that list. Elizabeth Hunter, writer, teacher, and mentor got us started. She wondered if monarchs could coexist in a traditional, carefully controlled, chemical apple orchard. Enlisting cofounders Kit Trubey and Judy Carson, the trio soon discovered the answer was YES.

The Orchard is a natural home of milkweed, the larval host plant for monarchs. The only place female monarchs lay eggs is the underside of milkweed leaves. The trio soon planted a flower garden with Monarch-attractive flowers to fuel the annual monarch migration to over-winter in Mexico. They trained the orchard field crew to preserve the milkweed and the store staff to collect the eggs and nurture them through the amazing life cycle of egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly.

The butterfly dries out from its chrysalis birth, tests its new wings and flies away. Those born in September, generally the 6th generation of the year, fly all the way to Mexico, more than 1,500 miles from the Orchard, where they spend the winter. Hunter introduced us to Monarch Watch where we were trained in the art of tagging the migrating butterflies. Six of the hundreds the Orchard has tagged over the years have been found in Mexico at the migration site.

However, the number of Monarchs through the Orchard has decreased significantly over the first 25 years. That increases our determination to be a monarch friendly stop on the monarch life cycle map.

Our monarch butterfly preservation project was featured in Blue Ridge Country Magazine,  in an article by naturalist and Orchard volunteer Elizabeth Hunter. Please take a moment and read the article,  “Saving the Good Stuff”. 

Learn more about monarch butterflies.


Milkweed for Monarchs!Milkweed, the larval plant for the monarch, is plentiful at The Orchard as are the monarchs. Unlike some other species of butterflies, monarchs have only one larval plant, so they depend on milkweed for survival. In areas where milkweed is scarce, monarchs are too. Unfortunately, the wild milkweed plant is frequently mowed down when development projects begin. We encourage you to plant milkweed around your home or property and to remind others to do the same. We are happy to share milkweed plants and seeds from our grounds to help others contribute to preserving this species

Informational Videos


Is history repeating itself with neonicitinoids and monarchs?

Hello again everyone,Last week I posted a blog about the 20-year anniversary of the time when everyone thought Bt corn was killing monarchs. I thought it was interesting to look back at that time in our history and re-read the science, and the factors that led everyone to believe that narrative at the time, which we now know wasn't quite true. In hindsight, it sort of looks like the whole world really, really wanted to believe that big agriculture was imperiling the monarch, and so everyone was



A look back at the time when the entire world thought bt corn was killing monarchs

Hello everyone,I'd like to start by thanking the readers and followers for taking the time to read this blog. I realized this summer that by now I have been doing this for 5 years, and there are now over 100 blog entries! So if you are reading this, then I hope you have found this website useful. It was always my hope that this site would serve as a useful forum for the dissemination of science around this bug that we all know and love. And, that it teaches people to do something that I think we



New study shows that yes, rearing monarchs inside next to a window really does mess with their navigation-senses

Hi everyone,I'm back at my computer already! That's because a brand new study was just published that everyone who cares about monarchs needs to read, or at least be aware of. As you can see from the title of this blog post, the new study focused on the increasingly controversial topic of captive rearing of monarchs. Today I'm going to do my best to tell you about this study.This new study, published in the journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society (link here for the abstract) was conducted by




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Spruce Pine, NC 28777

Blue Ridge Parkway
(mile marker 328.3)



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