I recently heard on the news that Monarch butterflies are low in numbers and that milkweed is a good idea to plant in gardens. I really would be sad if we didn't have any more butterflies!
I've been reading about that also. A couple of reasons that's thought to be leading to their low numbers is the widespread use of pesticides and another is that spraying of "Roundup-ready" farm crops with weed killers is killing the field and roadside stands of wild growing milkweed, the foodsource of Monarch catterpillars. Also the forest around their winter habitat in Mexico is being cut down leaving their few protected acres vulnerable.
Yes, it's been advised that planting milkweed in our gardens will help them. Thank you for reminding us.
Here is a link that might be useful: Texas Butterfly Ranch Blog: Monarch Wake up Call
I have milkweed for their larvae. They LOVE Greggs Blue mist nectar, and lantana...I keep that for them too. They pass through here in Oct. Some stay all summer. I believe the BT ready crops destroy all Lepidoptera [those who make larvae]. I hope I got that right. But BT added into corn to prevent corn borers takes a toll on butterflies of all types.
"But BT added into corn to prevent corn borers takes a toll on butterflies of all types." And perhaps on us as well. Originally thought to be harmless, when ingested BT is said to kill beneficial microbes in our gut.
Here is a link that might be useful: It's a mess ...
Do you remember in the 80's and 90's when people learned how dolphins were being killed in fishing nets and people were encouraged to buy tuna marked, "Dolphin Safe?" Why can't we do that for Monarchs? Why can't there be "Monarch Safe" products, made without GMO corn/wheat, etc? People love Monarchs. How do you get products labeled as such? How does one go about getting something like this going?
There is such a group: The Environmental Working Group
"A non-profit, non-partisan research organization dedicated to using the power of information to protect public health and the environment. The EWG Action Fund, a separate sister organization of EWG, is a legislative advocacy organization that promotes healthy and sustainable policies."
I'm on their mailing list and they send out very helpful information such as which fruits and veggies are sprayed the most (such as celery, which is why I always buy organic celery, also organic apples & grapes) and which are clean, such as onions, cabbage, & avacados, safer insect repellents, etc. Also there is information on bills before congress concerning the environment and farming. Very big right now is the push to label all GMO foods.
There's lots of good information on their site.
Here is a link that might be useful: The Environmental Working Group site ....
There are people who are trying to raise awareness to the plight of the Monarch butterfly migration, a plight which may be serving as an evironmental "canary in the coal mine".
" ... the group wrote a letter to the three presidents beseeching them to work together for cross-continent solutions to restoring milkweed habitat. More than 160 scientists, conservationists, artists, naturalists and others signed the letter, which encouraged planting milkweed on roadsides and between fields, and suggested subsidies for farmers to set aside land that is free of herbicides."
More on link ...
Here is a link that might be useful: Will the three presidents talk butterflies?
If we had enough areas in the U.S. free of herbicides, pesticides, GMO crops and such, that would be fantastic for the butterflies! My property is, but that's not much in the grand scheme of things.
If you are in Austin, a group dedicated to helping the Monarch butterflies is giving away milkweed seeds at the Cedar Park farmers market on Feb. 22 and at the Mueller farmers market on Feb. 23.
Don't just assume that milkweed plants from nurseries are safe. The producers often put systemic pesticides on them that don't go away from a long time. It's better if they are raised from seeds by organic methods
Well I can personally vouch that my co-worker and I are potting up asclepias tuberosa, bat faced cuphea, Mexican heather, pineapple sage, autumn sage, salvia coccinea, Gregg's mistflower, parsley and fennel. The butterflies at the botanical garden should have plenty to eat.
Maybe you could let us know later how well the Asclepias tuberosa does for you. I tried it one year, but couldn't keep it alive long. And when I asked the owner of a native plant nursery in the hill country about it, he said it didn't do well for him either.
To be truthfully honest, the tuberosa doesn't do well here I'm finding. Bob Webster is saying its not either. However if you can find Mexican Milkweed or Asclepias curassavica then that one does good here apparently.
My plan is to keep planting for them. The golden milkweed is a favorite for them. Gregg's blue mist is too. I save an plant zinnias and lantana and hope they will keep going.
All of my milkweed look like they're toast from the extreme freezes. But some will be back...one has green stems just now emerging from the ground already.
One plant that usually always has monarch and queen butterflies on it is buddleia.
I had 6 monarch caterpillars on my rue. The rue has been no maintenance - in raised bed, totally unprotected for over 2 years.
Below is the link to a post explaining how the erratic weather is killing off sprouting milkweeds, which of course is a major deterrant to migrating Monarch butterflies which will be looking to lay eggs. If there is enough milkweed for the few late comers Monarch numbers can be replenished in years to come.
Here is a link that might be useful: Texas Butterfly Ranch: Plant milkweed, sign petition
This post was edited by roselee on Thu, Mar 6, 14 at 11:20
If anyone would like to start asclepias curassivica from seed, I will soon have lots of it ripening. I have cats on mine now and will watch to make sure seed pods don't get totally decimated.
Drop me an email and I will send out packs of seeds to anyone wishing to help the monarchs for SASE (or perhaps do a trade for other butterfly seeds).
Just bringing this back up because I found a Monarch caterpillar last Wednesday on a milkweed in my yard. Today I noticed several eggs on a patch of Antelope Horns milkweed on my property...should turn out to be either Monarch or Queen eggs!
I have been following these articles regarding the plight of the Monarchs. For this reason, I have sowed several plants of Asclepias incarnata which grows easily for me and will flower in its first year. I plan to distribute them to the entire neighbourhood. Must do my little part for those beautiful and beneficial insects.
That's a great idea, northerner! I'm sure the Monarchs will appreciate that if/when they can get there! I'd given up on even seeing a Monarch this month, much less the baby caterpillars!
I just did a youtube video on butterfly gardening using the area by the street. Last section is about milkweed. I bought 4 plants from Redentas because they are the only nursery in Arlington that has it in stock. Mine popped right back up last year but this year I'm waiting for plants from seed. Saw a Monarch last month. In my notion of a more wonderful world, everyone would plant for butterflies and birds and bees. But in the mean time it's wonderful that northerner is her to plant and share.
Cynthia, I'd love to see your Youtube video. What is the name or link?
Wednesday I watched the PBS Nova program on TV about Monarchs and their unique migration pattern. It was made in 2011 before things got as bad as they are for this butterfly. Even if you saw it back then you may find it well worth watching again. The whole video is online. Sign in for high defination.
Here is a link that might be useful: Follow the 2,000-mile migration of monarchs to a sanctuary in the highlands of Mexico.
The first one has pupated! 3 more are still little and growing. I saw an adult Monarch in the Helotes area yesterday, first adult I've seen this year.
That is great news linda_tx8! Great picture also. Good luck with your other cats, whatever they may be.