There is a public misconception that only one species of Milkweed can be used by Monarch Butterfly caterpillars; this is not true! By planting milkweed in your own garden, landscape and throughout your community, you can help reverse the fortune of these beautiful insects. With monarch butterfly populations having dropped more than 90% in the last twenty years because of a loss of host plants, growing different milkweed plants is very important for future of monarchs. Amazingly enough, Monarchs can produce four generations during one summer. Adult butterflies lay eggs only on milkweed, and hatched caterpillars eat milkweed and only milkweed. Milkweed is the poster plant for pollinator gardens. Other common names, depending on region, include milkweed, common tiger, wanderer, and black veined brown. Read more about the best perennials for pollinators. Monarch’s Favorite Milkweed. Choose your milkweed variety! Milkweed plants are the monarch butterfly’s only host plant. When mowing is necessary, avoid peak monarch activity to minimize direct impacts to the monarch larvae growing on the milkweed plants. In fact, the monarch butterfly is also known as the “milkweed butterfly.” The milkweed plant provides all the nourishment the monarch needs to transform the Monarch caterpillar into the adult butterfly. Milkweed is a beautiful pink and white plant that attracts even more beautiful butterflies to your home! Let’s look at four of the best choices for a native milkweed species to attract monarch butterflies. Milkweeds are irresisible pollinator plants. Asclepias curassavica, Tropical milkweed, NOT native, but a great Monarch host and nectar plant for all butterflies. Milkweed is the sole host plant of the monarch butterfly. “WCU’s little monarch population is a great example of how individual landowners can make an impact by planting patches of milkweed to support monarch conservation,” Rockhill said. The monarch butterfly is a wonderful creature with an amazing story. Germination is variable dependent on source. Primary Ecosystem Roles: Milkweed is the food source for Monarch Butterfly caterpillars who are able to ingest the bitter and poisonous compounds in milkweed sap. After growing tropical and swamp milkweed in both ambient and very high temperatures, the researchers suggested, “[Tropical milkweed] represents a potential ecological trap for monarchs… Milkweed for Butterflies Monarch caterpillars ONLY eat milkweed. Other characteristics the team noted include how many other flowering plants were available for adult monarchs to feed on and the different types of milkweed present (Wisconsin has 12 native species). The leaves contain cardiac glycosides, compounds that affect heart function, making them toxic to most species of birds and mammals. Monarch Butterflies are dependent on Milkweed plants to reproduce, as Milkweed leaves are the only food their caterpillars can eat, but their caterpillars will feed on any species of Milkweed. Therefore, cultivating a healthy milkweed population is essential to supporting a healthy population of our iconic western monarch. Milkweed is the sole host plant for monarch caterpillars. Why it’s a must for monarchs: Milkweed is both a food source and a host plant for monarch eggs that are laid on the underside of the leaves. Kim is an expert on all things milkweed and monarch, even supplying local schools with monarch eggs to raise and release. Besides monarchs, frequent visitors also include native bees, honey bees, hummingbirds, and many other types of butterflies. Monarchs favor a variety of milkweeds, and in fact, with variety they’ll lay more eggs. In 2019, WestLand Resources, Inc. (WestLand) teamed up with the Tonto National Forest (TNF) Tribal Monitor Program and The Nature Conservancy to begin planting native milkweeds at the 7B Ranch, a conservation property near Mammoth, Arizona, owned by Resolution Copper and managed by The Nature Conservancy. Willing to survive in poor, dry soil this is a tough plant. However, there are more factors to consider when incorporating best practices for mowing your land. Milkweed seeds can be very slow to germinate and do take some time and patience. However, when given a choice, their favorite milkweed by far, is the Asclepias incarnata, common name: Swamp milkweed. It will push out new shoots as the weather warms. NOTE: If you choose to plant Tropical milkweed, best practice suggests slashing it to the ground in late fall or early winter. Ed Reschke/Photolibrary/Getty Images Without milkweed plants, there can be no Monarch butterflies—it's as simple as that. The monarch butterfly or simply monarch (Danaus plexippus) is a milkweed butterfly (subfamily Danainae) in the family Nymphalidae. In addition to Monarch butterflies, they will attract bees, other butterflies and moths, and a variety of other benefical bugs. Learn more about the special relationship: Monarchs & Milkweed. Perhaps most famously, milkweed species serve as the host plant for the monarch butterfly. Milkweed transplants tend to do best when . Visually inspect for any monarch activity, like eggs, caterpillars, or frass (caterpillar droppings) and take appropriate measures to protect ones you observe. A few words about Monarchs, Milkweeds, and Milkweed growth. Monarchs cannot survive without milkweed; their caterpillars only eat milkweed plants (Asclepias spp. According to an ARS and Iowa State University study of nine milkweed species native to Iowa, female monarch butterflies laid eggs in all nine milkweeds, but the swamp and common milkweed averaged the highest number of eggs. Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) is a native herbaceous perennial whose main virtue is its appeal to butterflies—especially the monarch, which deposits its eggs on the milkweed. Not only is it attractive, it's an important nectar source for bees and other insects. What would be the best arrangement or placement of milkweed in a garden? To learn more about milkweed plants and which variety is best … A few adult monarchs fluttered about, checking the place out. ), and monarch butterflies need milkweed to lay their eggs. Milkweed is the only host plant for monarch butterflies. Milkweed is the main food source for these gorgeous butterflies. Dr. Adam Baker of the University of Kentucky did research and presented that research in a paper titled, “Colonization and usage of eight milkweed (Asclepias) species by monarch butterflies and bees in urban garden settings,” along with Daniel A Potter, also at the University of Kentucky. No Milkweed, No Monarchs. Please plant milkweed to support monarch populations, and their incredible migration! We ship this type first until our supplies are exhausted then switch to speciosa for Northern regions. For best results and to speed up the germination process, place the seeds in wet paper towels in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for 30 days prior to … Plants in the milkweed Asclepias family are essential to adding the chemical to Monarch larvae that make them unpalatable to predators. With a form similar to common milkweed, purple milkweed is a stand out primarily due to the color of its flowers. Monarch populations are crashing and one reason is the lack of milkweed that Monarch caterpillars must eat to survive. As Monarch Watch announced its Bring Back the Monarchs milkweed restoration campaign last week, questions have appeared in our emailbox regarding which species are best for San Antonio and Austin yards, ranches, or even a vacant lots that beg for a butterfly garden. When these … To find out more about the various species of milkweed and which are best for your area, check out this factsheet courtesy of Monarch Joint Venture. Lets get started! As the only host plant for Monarchs, milkweed is the best plant for concerned gardeners to put in their gardens. Thoroughly water both plugs and container plants immediately after planting and continue to provide irrigation as needed during the dry season for the first several years until the plants are established. The butterfly milkweed (Asclepias speciosis) is given much wider publicity in books and garden magazines; however it doesn’t survive in Zone 2b of the prairies whereas the swamp milkweed will! typically <10- 30 days In midsummer, female monarch butterflies visit milkweed to drink its nectar and lay eggs. Common Milkweed – Asclepias syriaca. The monarch’s top 4 favorite milkweed species are bolded in the list below.. Fragrant flowers grow on domed umbels with a slightly pinkish-purple complexion. Will survive winters and a prolific seed producer. planted in the fall before the milkweed goes dormant (e.g., October). They followed these lines for equal distances at each location and counted the number of monarch butterflies, monarch caterpillars, and milkweed stems they encountered on either side. When the caterpillars hatch, they feed on the leaves of milkweed. Different Types of Milkweed. The taller, delicate and unassuming narrow leaf milkweed, aka Mexican whorled milkweed (A. fascicularis) and the similar eastern whorled milkweed (A. verticillata). The monarch butterfly is one of the best known but most threatened of the butterfly species in North America; in Canada, it is a Species of Special Concern (www.sararegistry.gc.ca). Best monarch-supporting milkweeds proved to be the biggest and tallest species: Kim also supplies milkweed seeds to Sow True Seeds – a great place to get native milkweed seeds. Asclepias-syriaca - also know as common Milkweed this was once the major diet of the Monarchs. Milkweed is also well known for attracting butterflies and serving as a host plant for their caterpillars. Without milkweed, monarchs can’t successfully reproduce and the species declines. Email Submit. A 4' plant with large thick leaves that feed many Monarchs. Monarchs lay eggs specifically on milkweed, the eggs hatch into caterpillars and the caterpillars eat the foliage. It all started with an accidental visit to a City of Santa Monica building near Santa Monica airport. I’ve caught the milkweed bug. Purple Milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens): My favorite species of monarch butterfly host plant, purple milkweed is hard to find in the nursery trade but oh so beautiful! This will discourage overwintering of organisms possibly harmful to Monarchs. One of the biggest factors in monarch decline is the increasing scarcity of its only caterpillar host plant: milkweed. Let’s Get Started… Monarch Butterfly House Plants Habitats Wild Flowers Seeds Yard Ideas Nature Butterflies Insects. With shifting land management practices, we have lost much milkweed from the landscape. Observing monarchs also demonstrates how conservation and habitat management work — and how the small acts of many to make a big difference. Step 1. The Monarch Butterfly population has declined a whopping 90% over the past decade. It may be the most familiar North American butterfly, and is considered an iconic pollinator species. Others, like Monarch Butterflies, are able to incorporate the toxin so that they themselves become unpalatable to potential predators. They had planted milkweed outside the building, 18+ plants by my count, and there were TONS of monarch larvae, with lines of chrysalises along the building’s siding. By ingesting the leaves, monarch larvae become toxic and predators avoid them. This one is great for hosting late-season migrating monarchs because its blooms last until late fall. In Southern California, gardeners have milkweed choices when outdoor plant shopping.For decades the most common milkweed species in our gardens has been a Central American species sometimes called Tropical Milkweed, or more correctly Asclepias currassivica.It is a magnet for monarchs and even a single plant in a garden will soon display a few colorful caterpillars dining on its leaves. San Antonio and Austin, Texas — Fall is the time to plant wildflowers, including milkweed, the Monarch butterfly host plant. Milkweed is a monarch’s best defence By David Suzuki with contributions from Communications Strategist Jode Roberts (Photo: Chris Nolan) Subscribe to Science Matters. Common milkweed plants grow to about 2 to 4 feet in height, with a thin, vertical growth habit. Based on the preferences by monarchs and their poten- tial for restoration, we recommend the collecting of seeds and propagation of A. angustifolia (Arizona milkweed), A. subulata (rush milkweed), A. asperula (antelope horn/spider milkweed), and A. tuberosa (butterfly weed, the yellow-flowered western biotype). A monarch chrysalis hangs from the leaf of common milkweed, Asclepias syriaca.This is the stage in the life cycle where the caterpillar changes to a butterfly. 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