A Monarch First For Me

susanlynne48(OKC7a)August 11, 2010

I have quite a bit of milkweed as mentioned in other posts, including Tropical, Family Jewels, Giant, Incarnata, and lots of baby milkweeds around the garden, too. So, pretty much a smorgasborg of milkweed. A mama Monarch flew into the garden this morning, nectared on the Cosmos, and then she disappeared from my sight for awhile. I thought, that's weired, so I went to look and see if she was hanging around in another area, and found her.......laying eggs on the Cynanchum laeve, of all things. I know this is in the Asclepiadaceae family, and grow it in case I have a large number of cats and run out of my other milkweed. It is not, however, their favored host of all the milkweeds.

In the past, I have had to resort to feeding it to them when they run out of their favorites, especially A. incarnata, A. curassavica, A. physocarpa. They turn up their little Monarch noses, until they realize they're not getting the premium food, and commence to eating it. I had one that just pupated early rather than eat it at all. :>) I've always suspected this is because the Cynanchum laeve is so much lower in the cardiac glycosides that protect the Monarchs from birds. I say birds, because many other predators have apparently not heard the story about them being toxic and readily eat them, especially wasps, spined soldier bugs, and spiders.

I have never in the last 8 years, seen them lay eggs on it until today. Especially if their favorite food was plentiful.

So I am very surprised to see the Monarchs use it as a host when other preferred LFPs are available. Anybody else ever had this experience?


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runmede(7a Virginia)

They are like picky toddlers from year to year. One year they love tropical, the next butterfly weed, swamp,...

But, usually here in the fall, they use the Blue Sand Vine. I think it may have more tender leaves than the other milkweeds in the fall.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 2:52PM
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There is not any difference in the leaf tenderness on the plants I'm growing right now, Runmede, so I don't know why she chose to use it. Also, it is not a milkweed they have ever used in my garden at all. I have a nice stand of the Tropical right out front in the sun, and she bypassed it to lay on the Cynanchum. Go figure! :~:

In fact, I just hosed down the milkweeds this morning because there was a lot of aphid honeydew all over the foliage that I needed to wash away. The leaves had already dried, tho. Who wouldn't dry out in this weather we're having! By 9 am it's already 95 degrees. I sure am ready for the lower temps we're supposed to get by Sunday here.


    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 7:09PM
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This is the first year that the monarchs are laying their eggs on my A. syriaca. They've either never or rarely laid on that; always preferring my A. incarnata. I had one lady lay 8 eggs on one small syriaca. I'd never found so many eggs on one plant before. Last year, none were laid on my A. curassavica, but the year before they did. I forgot to plant and/or purchase those this year.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2010 at 10:37AM
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Hey, Tracy! Good to hear from you! Do you have a lot of the A. syriaca? Is it as invasive as reported? I have a small garden, so I have been hesitant to plant it because I don't want it to take over everything else. I still have seedlings of A. tuberosa (for nectar cuz they don't lay on it), A, speciosa, A. purpurescens, and A. viridis. I don't know if they'll make it or not. This sustained heat we've had has not been kind to them. Even in the shade, some have burned up.

In the past, the Monarchs have always chosen at least A. curassavica over all others. I went out this morning and a few have hatched already, so I came in and started working on my containers. I am using Cat's method (TexasPuddyPrint). I have several large plastic pretzel containers, and I cut 2 large holes in each. Then I cut out window screening material to size and hot glued it on. Kind of tedious since I am "new" with the glue gun. Burned myself a few times, stabbed myself with the screen several times, but it is done. Now I just need to get the floral foam ready, gather some milkweed and wash it off, gather the babies, and we're in business. Unless I can find a few more containers, I will only raise about 40. I may just resort to those cheap Glad containers in the large size, and then modify those with the screening. The screening allows for better air circulation than what I used to do, which was poke a few tiny holes here and there. For the cover, I use a paper towel held by a rubber band. If the Monarchs pupate on it, I can just hang up the paper towel and replace the one on the container with a fresh one.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2010 at 1:02PM
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