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Who has a taste for asclepias?

Posted by min3 9N.CA (My Page) on
Sun, Aug 29, 10 at 18:43

i planted a bunch of them last fall and they have bloomed only a little before being systematically attacked and i just discovered today that something is going to eat ALL of them! the stems are being bitten cleanly off about 12" high but i think some stems are also slowly being eaten down shorter after there are no leaves left. there are no rabbit or caterpillar droppings around the plants that i can find and there are not many plants nearby for a bug to hide in.

it(they?) may be the critter(s) that ate my alternantheras flat too but they were partly trampled down to the ground as well.
whatever it is doesn't seem to like salvias or sedums, passion vines or shrubs of any kind.

birds? sqrls? rats? i do have rats eating the grapes! HELP! thanks, min

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Who has a taste for asclepias?

Have you considered voles. They don't attack my milkweed but I hear they will eat nearly anything.


RE: Who has a taste for asclepias?

  • Posted by min3 9N.CA (My Page) on
    Sun, Aug 29, 10 at 22:11

thanks for the suggestion penny, but i havn't ever seen a vole here. moles yes, but never a vole.

and deer cant get into that garden either. still a mystery...

RE: Who has a taste for asclepias?

I don't have much of a taste for it, even though it's poisonous. You'd think a person who developed a taste for cigarettes would find other poisons equally attractive, but not me.

Seriously- it's most likely monarch butterfly caterpillars that are eating your milkweed. You'd think a bug with black and white stripes would stick out like a sore thumb, but they are very hard to spot on the plants.


RE: Who has a taste for asclepias?

  • Posted by wcgypsy 10 / Sunset 23 (My Page) on
    Sun, Aug 29, 10 at 23:08

Well, I don't know about biting the stems off, but if your leaves are stripped,most likely the Monarch caterpillar is your culprit. That's their main food and I'm glad they found some at your place. If you want to help the Monarchs, plant more asclepias, especially the native asclepias group.

RE: Who has a taste for asclepias?

  • Posted by min3 9N.CA (My Page) on
    Mon, Aug 30, 10 at 10:07

wow- thanks, renee and gypsy. good news if it IS monarch caterpillars, and i would be thrilled because that's exactly why i planted them!
i can't imagine why i haven't ever seen any caterpillars on the plants tho, because they were always bright and very visible on the wild milkweed in the southeast. we would keep an eye on them and eventually watch them hatch. this morning i will go out and really search for any chrysalis(eses)(ii?) in the area.

yes these are native asclepias and i will plant some more, unless i discover that i am feeding some unwanted critter. min

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