A Monarch First For Me
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?