Quick question-I will run out of milkweed for my cats

Monarch-Ma-so.cal(10 Southern CA.)November 16, 2013

I just wanted to ask a QUICK question. Today I went to get leaves for my indoor cats, and brought in 9 small instars and 3 eggs. And my outdoor milkweed is very damaged from black mold and to a lesser degree by insects, I can see that I will surely run out of milkweed to feed the brood.

Do you think that I can start seeds indoors now, and is there any way to speed up the growth of indoor seedlings? A special light?

Any one have any luck asking on here or on Craigslist, etc.. about getting milkweed from someone nearby?

There is no local native milkweed growing anywhere around here out in the open spaces. In the 60's most empty lots were glistening with green chrysalises, but the empty lots are a thing of the past. Below are some of the ones I brought in today. There were 3 newly hatched eggs. I saw a Monarch laying eggs yesterday :(
Many thanks.

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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

I would definitely try Craig's list. Hopefully someone will know of a spot where milkweed is growing. I don't think you can grow milkweed quickly enough to feed the number you have, unless you have a ton of seed. Germination can take weeks. Good luck in your search. Have you searched native plant retailers. Just make sure they don't use pesticides of any sort.


    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 8:36AM
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I know it sounds strange and I have only read about it from a couple online sources but they say you can actually feed your cats pumpkin if you run out of milk weed and absolutely cannot find more. I have not personally tried this as I have a nursery very close that always has milk weed but it is a very interesting thought and apparently it is not uncommon for people with hundreds of cats to use this in a pinch.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 12:51PM
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Monarch-Ma-so.cal(10 Southern CA.)

Thanks barry. I remember reading that too, I haven't tried it though. Today I have about 50 cats and eggs, the number grows daily!!! I think I'll need a field of milkweed! I think I'll have to cover the plants with hardware cloth to prevent more egg-laying but keep the food source growing. The aluminum screen I used on my enclosure doesn't let enough sun in to let the plants grow very well.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2013 at 11:26PM
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Monarch-Ma-so.cal(10 Southern CA.)

Thank you Martha. I have emailed the scarce few native plant growers in my area and haven't heard back yet. I do have a ton of seed, but two weeks to germinate will be too late. Their numbers are growing daily and I'm in way over my head! I work every waking hour on them-I can't believe the amount of work it's been. There is a botanical gardens nearby, but I believe it's closed this time of year. I'll call the master gardener in my county and maybe city hall also to see if anyone knows of native milkweed around here.

Martha, do you think I can switch to tropical MW on these (I can get that anywhere) when they were laid on and are used to native MW? Maybe the females who laid the eggs wanted native for a reason. I wonder if the offspring do the same things diet wise that their parents did as well? I don't want to confuse them if that's the case.


    Bookmark   November 20, 2013 at 11:43PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

I would think you can switch to tropical milkweed without much problem. It's certainly better than letting them starve. You can only do what you can do. Sounds like you've already put in quite a lot of work.


    Bookmark   November 21, 2013 at 10:06PM
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If you can get safe tropical milkweed, that's okay. Caterpillars not being able to grow enough to pupate isn't okay, if you can avoid it. IMHO, I think maybe that the milkweed the cat starts on might greatly influence the female butterfly's choice later on in life.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2013 at 11:50PM
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Monarch-Ma-so.cal(10 Southern CA.)

Thanks for the input. I would never let them starve, I'll get tropical if native isn't available. They eat a huge amount daily !!!

    Bookmark   November 22, 2013 at 1:11AM
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