where did all the milkweed go?

noticklish(z5/6 CT)September 14, 2011

Anyone in CT notice the lack of "roadside" milkweed? I had to drive to a neighboring town to find monarch caterpillars for my son's class.

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cloud_9(z5 CT)

Where did all the milkweed go?
Long time passing
Where did all the milkweed go?
Long time ago
Where did all the milkweed go?
Caterpillars ate them every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Dang, now I have an earworm. Anyway, I have never noticed roadside milkweed. Roadside mowing? I have spots where I know there are large patches of milkweed and would be quite disturbed if I went to find caterpillars and there was no milkweed. But even more disturbing - I have gone to those patches and found very little caterpillar activity. At least you were able to find a cat. I never did find one this year. The kids always get such a kick out of the metamorphosis. Maybe I will winter sow some milkweed this year. Monarchs should have a better showing by now after that huge freeze kill-off a few years back don't you think?

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 6:27PM
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terrene(5b MA)

I'm not in CT, but there used to be common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) growing along the side of the fields along my road when I first moved here. I actually stopped the guy who was mowing the road side for the town, and told him he was mowing down the milkweed for the Monarch butterflies. He looked at me blankly. Anyway, the milkweed is now gone.

There are still wild patches growing here and there though. I make mental notes of where it's growing, because I've been raising over 100 Monarchs this year (still unsure of the exact # that will be released), and have had to supplement their food with wild milkweed.

Asclepias incarnata (swamp) is very easy to winter sow and grows quickly for a perennial milkweed. A. curassavica (tropical) also grows quickly and is great food for the cats - has abundant "milk" and a high glycoside content (the toxin that makes Monarchs unpalatable to vertebrates).

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 7:39PM
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spedigrees z4VT

I encourage wild milkweed to grow on my own property, together with swamp milkweed volunteers that have colonized the wet areas of my land. Just thinking, you butterfly lovers might cultivate a small patch of milkweed on your own property that the town road workers can't touch.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2011 at 11:21AM
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terrene(5b MA)

Hi spedigrees, I concur, grow milkweed! Although it's not the easiest genus to grow, subject to fungus, insect, and critter damage. I'm growing about 8 species of milkweed, with greater or lesser success, and my yard is a registered Monarch Waystation.

As for the Monarch population, they did suffer from storms over the winter in Mexico during the winter of 2010. They estimate 50-60% of hibernating Monarchs were lost. The population is the lowest it's been in decades and under pressure on both ends - illegal logging in their overwintering grounds, and decreasing habitat in their breeding grounds - US and southeast Canada. No one is really sure about the fate of this species.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2011 at 11:51AM
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ctlady_gw(z6 CT)

Actually, in our part of CT -- central to north central -- this was a banner year for milkweed!! Until now, that is... The patch in my meadow must have quadrupled this year, and it was in every bit of land along roads and even in shopping center parking lot strips. However, after Irene, I noticed my large stand in the meadow has shriveled and turned brown. Last year we had monarch caterpillars galore into early October. This year (though I have not yet waded into the remains of it) I can't see much green left, so there can't be much caterpillar activity.

But YES! We can all plant milkweed, even if it's just in the back of a border or behind a barn. Massive quantities in the Midwest are gone because the farmers there now have corn that is Roundup resistant -- so they can spray their fields to get rid of the milkweed and not harm the corn. (Though why you want to feed anyone or anything corn that has been sprayed with Roundup is beyond me.) And they DO! NY Times had a great piece about it this summer ...

Check out MonarchWatch.org and consider planting a few monarch-friendly plants, maybe even get your yard certified as a Monarch Waystation (there's no minimum size--and I can attest that milkweed will even grow in a pot on your patio, which makes watching those caterpillars work their magic so much easier!). It's a terrific project ... and the monarchs will thank you.

I swear, they dip their wings as they head off in the fall ... pretty sure they're saying "thanks!!" Me, I just whisper "Godspeed" as I watch them bank to the southwest over my barn, beginning their amazing journey.

Here is a link that might be useful: MonarchWatch.org

    Bookmark   September 15, 2011 at 9:24PM
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aeiger(Z7bNC)

Cloud 9 (Deb)come dig some from my house before I move to NC! I have tons of it and aclepsia orange too! /Abi

    Bookmark   September 16, 2011 at 12:14PM
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