Sunday, April 17, 2016

Milkweeds and Monarch for the M

One of my favorite past times as a child was watching bugs, rolly pollies,Bees, Butterflies and of course lightening bugs, fireflies for those not native to the South. Now these things that represent the warm sunny days of my childhood are disappearing from our landscape.  With our love of lush green lawns, factory farms and the loss of the wild places we also loose a piece of ourselves, we are robbing our children of summer joy of watching the butterflies flit from plant to plant. Butterflies are the third most populous pollinator, so not only are they beautiful they are important to our food system.

Why is are Monarchs and other pollinators dying off? Deforestation, loss of habitat and the over use of glyphosate, Round up to me and you. These days Round up is used everywhere, it's even built into our corn and soy seeds to tolerate being sprayed with it. It's used along roads and in your yard. We have become a society that doesn't understand the importance of what we now see as "weeds". One of the main plants they are seeing major loss in, is the Milkweed. Doesn't sound too bad does it, to lose a weed. What if that weed is the only plant that Monarchs Caterpillars eat? Then it's a problem!
Image result for milkweed plant

I heard that milkweed is poisonous, and you still think I should have it my garden or yard? Yes, It is very poisonous to Animals and People but it's not something that you would be harvesting or handling. It's for the caterpillars remember. And the ingestion of the plant along with the showy colors are what keeps them from being eaten by birds and other animals. It's best to plant it in an area away from normal traffic, just to be safe.

Isn't it the same as a butterfly plant? No, nursery's will occasionally call it that since the word "weed" is so unpopular, if you are looking in a nursery know the scientific name for the species that will work best in your area. Milkweeds are adoptive to their environment, so you'll need one native to your area. Check out Monarch Watch for a great list of plant options for your zone.

By adding a clump, you'll need more than a couple of plants, of Milkweed to your pollinator garden you'll not only be helping out the Monarchs but you'll be helping bring a species back and we must act now before it's too late. Every little garden helps.

Want to learn more about Monarchs and their decline check out these sites.
Monarch Watch 
Monarch Joint Venture
Butterfly Conservation

Thanks for stopping by I'm a bit off pace this week but working to get back on track.

See you in the garden!