Scientists see an ominous decline in the number of Monarch butterflies
WE planted a bunch of it. People ask why we are growing weeds, we tell them it isn't weeds, it's monarch hatcheries!
That's a great idea, Joan!
There are some gorgeous Asclepias cultivars available as seeds. I've been growing a dwarf variety for years which is covered with caterpillars every year. So don't think you have to be tied into the roadside/field milkweed.
I plant them in a hidden part of the garden....because they get stripped to smithereens in a short time. But the caterpillars are so pretty.
Just read an article about the decline in the newspaper this morning and hubby and I were discussing where to get milkweed. I suppose it's too late to start from seed in our area, I am going to research what other butterfly friendly plants we could plant now. If everyone with a home garden plants a few butterfly plants and stops using pesticides, we might be able to help the population increase again.
Edited to add the link to a website I just came across. They sell milkweed seeds or cuttings. Lots of interesting Monarch info as well.
Here is a link that might be useful: Live Monarch
This post was edited by petra on Thu, Mar 14, 13 at 11:48
Yes, I grow several different varieties of milkweed for the Monarchs, as well as native Passiflora -- all are stripped clean every summer/fall.
My garden is cottage style so the milk weed I leave there doesn't really look messy or out of place. So worth it when the butterflys come. The dried pods are also nice as a wreath accent and I've pressed the silk seed carriers (yeah, that's the technical term) to frame. The sprouts are also good to eat. It's a great plant all the way around. (and grows like a weed - ha!)
Interesting milkweed facts, Skibby!
And thanks for the link to the cool website, Petra.
Every year I plant asclepias, and some reseed. I also leave the wild ones growing along the garden. The past two years I have been so pleased to see so many Monarchs swooping around the yard. Isn't this a handsome fellow?
It's a worthy goal to do that research....not just about the Monarchs, but about butterflies and moths, in general. I know without a doubt, that my yard and gardens would seem lifeless without the color and fluttering of these beautiful insects.
Other than the several milkweed plants that I grow to sacrifice, I focus on nectar plants and not host plants. My reason for this is because I have hoards of birds! I don't feel that it's right for me to set up a big smorgasbord for a variety of caterpillars when there are so many birds around. The monarchs are very distastful to them but most other cats don't have that kind of protection.
It's pretty late to start Asclepias from seed in many locations, but you might find a garden center that sells the plants. The ornamental ones come in a beautiful array of colors. Just make sure that the garden center doesn't spray their plants.
You can purchase Asclepias (butterfly weed) seeds from any seed company that sells flower seeds. And remember, you also need to provide an assortment of long blooming nectar plants to attract them in the first place.
I read the book "Flight Behavior" by Barbara Kingsolver. It is fiction, but she is trained as a biologist. It is about how the migration patterns of butterflies have changed due to climate change. It's a great read and I recommend it. I have a butterfly bush in my garden but would like to a another or perhaps milkweed. The butterflies are such a gift.
Sad to hear. I have three butterfly bushes in my yard, but will get a milkweed plant.
Had to run errands and stopped off at 2 local nurseries. They didn't have any milkweed, but one of them expects 1 gallon plants within a week or 2. They also expect a shipment of butterfly bushes, so I'll pick up a couple of those as well.
Rhizo, thanks for the bird reminder, we have lots of those too. :o) I guess it will be better to confine the butterfly plants to the front yard because the feeders and bird baths are all in the back.
My National Wildlife magazine came today. There is a nice article about Monarchs and milkweed in it. You can read it online.
Here is a link that might be useful: Milk weed for Monarchs
I loved Flight Behavior by Kingsolver!
There is a monarch butterfly preserve in Pismo Beach. We can remember where there were 100,000 butterflies in our county....this year it was less than 20,000.
Destruction of habitat and climate change are BIG factors.
Birds don't serm to mess with butterflies too much....at least not that I've noticed. I wouldn't worry about where you place nectar plants like the butterfly bush (as opposed to butterflyweed...asclepias) . I've only noticed the birds after caterpillars and chrysalises.
You know what devours butterflies and moths like crazy? Praying mantids! They'll hide out under a flower and wait until one comes fluttering by to feed. BAM! They'll nab it and bite the wings off before chowing down. A successful hunter will have quite a pile of wings underneath the flowers.
I catch them and send them to Siberia (as I call it) ......Robert takes them to work and releases them on campus.
so glad to see this post, I planted a bunch more milkweed last summer and I hope to raise and release at least 400 Monarchs this summer, I have since 2007 released 2397 Monarchs. Thank you for everyone that does their part!
Minrose, that is impressive!!
As are the efforts of the rest of you. It's great to know the Monarchs have so many friends.
I saw Flight of the Butterflies in an Imax Theater it was a wonderful
movie also very interesting. It's about the Monarch Butterflies.
They are amazing!!! Flying all the way from Canada to Mexico and
how they breed thru generations.
Monarchs are beautiful, and although a weed, I think Asclepias is pretty, too. I have had it in a pot for the last two seasons but did not see any Monarchs. My neighbor, who obtained her Asclepias from the roadside, has a variety that is much deeper orange than mine is. And prettier. I wish I had collected some from her last year and kept it in the greenhouse. If mine comes out this year I think I will attempt to find a spot in the ground for it. It is a water hog planted in a pot.
Is Milkweed invasive? Is this something that I am going to have to be constantly pulling out to keep it under control?
No, Dedtired, it's not invasive. It's a clumper and spreads slowly, via seeds. It's so beautiful - wish I could grow the orange one that is wild in the midwest - it is a show-stopper!
rhizo - I have been sent to Siberia, too! By my 9th grade English teacher. (Far back corner of the room) LOL
Here is swamp milkweed one of the milkweeds most recommend in that National Wildlife article
And this is the commonly called butterflyweed or Asclepia tuberosa.
We used to have swamp milkweed growing in the ditches around here, but the county sprays herbicide and has killed it all. Was so pretty with those pale pink flowers. Have another wild milk weed that grows in the pastures...not pretty like tuberosa but makes big pods and lots of seeds. I grow A. currasavica in the yard. The caterpillars eat it up, but it doesn't seem to hurt it. It recovers and comes right back. We have a shrubby plant that grows in the woods....most people hate it because it has huge thorns....trifoiletta (probably spelled wrong), but the zebra swallow tails like it. It is in the citrus family. I love it. But, I love thorny plants anyway.
Eek, Marilyn...that's the thorny Poncirus trifoliata...also called flying dragon. Good name, huh? It's considered very invasive in Texas. It's a host plant for the Giant Swallowtail, as are other citrus. I usually keep a couple of scrawny seedling oranges going in containers just to see the lifecycle of that incredible huge butterfly.
Pawpaw is the host plant of the zebra. You might have pawpaw in your woods, tok.
Susan, do you know if milkweek attracts other caterpillars? Creepy crawly things give me the heebie-jeebies but if I know they're going to be only monarchs, I won't mind so much.
I'm not sure how to answer that. It seems to me that the garden as a whole attracts so many creepy-crawly things (not to mention bees and other flying insects) that one kind of plant shouldn't make a visible difference. Plus other caterpillars turn into butterflies too. Or they turn into moths--some of them quite lovely. After all, the luna is a moth.
Perhaps some of the others, who know more about milkweed than I, can give you a better answer.
I am far more north and of most of you but for some time now have been planting to try and bring back the monarchs. A friend of mine just got word last week that one of his tagged monarchs was identified in Mexico....what a thrill that it traveled all the way from the east coast of Canada all the way to Mexico!!
Below is a link to a photo album of my first released monarchs but I had not tags.
I have common, tropical and swamp milkweed. They only went to the swamp, don't know why.
Keep planting....I am on a hunt for swamp milkweed for sale around here....very, very hard to get.
Here is a link that might be useful: My monarch journey
Sjerin, there are rwo butterfly species which use milkweed as a host plant...the Monarch and the Queen. The larvae and the adults of these two insect resemble each other quite a bit....and the Queen has a migratory habit, as well. The Queen will only be observed in a limited part of this country...the SW.
Since you've confessed to being squeamish about crawly things, we had better warn you about the bright yellow milkweed/oleander aphids that seem to find these plants whever they are planted. I'm not talking about a handful, either. :-)
Rhizo, you are so right - those Aphids are NASTY! I spray soapy water on them and about 30 minutes later, rinse with the hose. UGGGGGGHHHH!
Here is one I "hatched" several years ago.
Eeeeeeww, now you've made me think twice.... Thank you both for the information, though. Still thinking.
Aphids won't HURT you - they are just nasty orange pin head-sized little creepy crawlys that give you the weebie jeebies. It's a pleasure to spray them with soapy water - kinda like the feeling one gets killing slugs - I know, it's macabre, but......!
As far as aphids go, these are quite lovely...very fashionable in their bright yellow body suits and black leggings.
I just had a friend who tagged a monarch last fall at Point Lepreau, New Brunswick Canada. It was just identified last week as arriving by the tag number in Mexico.
That is a heck of a long distance and one we in New Brunswick are very proud of.
All the other bugs etc. don't matter, if you plant milkweed that is really all you need to do to help with their journey north and back to Mexico.
You really don't have to do anything more than plant the flower and watch the beauty and the miracle of how it all happens.
Please take part....this is such a small task to ask, but has huge ramifications if these wonderful butterflies die off.
I planted 10 pot today in the snow, hoping my seed pods will grow up here in North Eastern Canada. I used to run through fields of these magnificent butterflies....now gardeners are researching and planting to bring them back.
Don't take them for granted...please.
cool pictures. Taigen, I remember your photos. So cool.
Noxious Weed = Butterfly Bush here. So be careful
what you plant, I don't want a big fine!
I've got to agree on the butterfly bush label of "noxious weed." It gets out of control easily though if you have a large yard, that would probably be fine.
Ornamental cultivars do not behave that way.
Please note...butterfly 'bush' is an entirely different plant.
And as rhizo posted, ornamental cultivars of butterfly'weed' are not noxious weeds.
Good catch, gazania! Butterfly BUSH is the accepted common name for Buddleja davidii.....which can become a serious pest in some locations.
That confusion is why I've used the scientific name, Asclepias, to discuss butterfly WEED, the host plant of the Monarchs. Buddleja is popular among consumers only because it will attract butterflies for its nectar. It does not serve as a host plant.
Sorry, I thought we were discussing the two different plants.
sjerin, no need to be sorry I didn't mean to be "scolding" anyone...I just wanted anyone that may come in late on these posts to not be confused. The references to the b "bush" as opposed to the b'weed' were far back
near the beginning of these posts and likely to be skipped over leading those that are unfamiliar with the plants to draw the wrong conclusion if just reading the last few posts. (as often I do with posts of many entries)
Isn't that funny, I never knew you could buy milkweed.
But I have been reading for years how badly it is needed to for the monarchs existance. So I never pull milkweed when it comes up in my garden. This winter hubby and I were in Mexico and noticed the largest milkweed plant either of us had ever seen - a good 5 feet tall and had a large trunk on it!