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Help Save The Monarch Butterfly: Plant Some Milkweed

A once populous species threatened A slightly different post today on the weekend. I’ve always loved Monarch Butterflies. When I was a kid, we picked milkweed with monarch caterpillars on them, put them into an old fish tank aquarium, kept supplying them with fresh milkweed and then made sure we hung sticks or metal rods across the top so they had somewhere to climb to form their chrysalis.. and eventually hatch.

Nowadays though, Monarchs are increasingly threatened, partially due to deforestation in Mexico in their wintering grounds, partially due to bad weather, and maybe a lot to do with the face that Milkweed, specifically Common Milkweed, the prime source of food for the Monarchs, has been practically eradicated from farmer’s fields in North America, due to it being thought of as a noxious weed and thus destroyed with pesticide where found. Monarch populations have plumetted as a result, ad the species is threatened.

You now have a chance, in Ontario at least, to reverse that. Ontario has recently taken the Common Milkweed off of the noxious weeds list, in an effort to allow it to re-grow and help Monarch populations to recover. People are being encouraged to plant it again. You can see those efforts at Monarch Watch, wich gives summaries on the populations, as well as what you can do to restore milkweed in its natural habitat.

It is not just Common Milkweed that the Monarchs will use; other species of milkweed they will also use for eating and for nectar; two species that live around here are Swamp Milkweed and Butterfly Weed; both have been seen in gardens in recent times, as they have more attractive flowers and are less easily spread then Common Milkweed.

At Monarch Watch, they list vendors where you can order Milkweed seeds from or “plugs”, which are the young plants. In Ontario, they list 2 Garden Centres/Natural Plant stores for buying the different varieties of milkweed: Wildflower Farm, located north of Toronto in the Newmarket area, and WildThings Plant Farm, which is near Clifford. The former allows you to order their different milkweed products online, the latter place you will need to either send send them a cheque with your return address, or telephone them
and use a credit card. Both of these places have Common and Swamp (called “Red” Milkweed at the former site) as well as Butterfly weed available.

If you have space in your gardens.. or you have some waste areas on your property (ditches etc) consider ordering some of these seeds/plants to get a plant population going and hopefully attract Monarchs to it.

1 comment to Help Save The Monarch Butterfly: Plant Some Milkweed

  • Cerline Weigl

    Please send me seeds. My garden has no pestisides but my neighbours do. I would love to bring the butterflys to my yard and feed them Milkweed.

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