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Monarchs need Milkweed

I spotted some interesting ‘seed pods’ (follicles) along the roadside while taking a walk this week and recognized the plants as Milkweed.

milkweed-pod.jpg

After studying numerous photos I further identified them as Asclepias syriaca or Common Milkweed.

Common Milkweed is a perennial herb associated with Monarch butterflies since their larvae feed primarily on various Milkweed species.

milkweed-leaves.jpg

With as much as 90-percent of the Monarch butterfly population being lost over the past 30 years, gardeners are encouraged to plant or preserve existing stands of Milkweed, even though it is toxic and can be invasive.

It’s interesting to read about the various larval stages of Monarch butterfly development (known as 'instars') and to learn more about how they feed on Milkweed leaves to avoid problems with the sticky, milky sap.

milkweed-pods.jpg

You can learn more from these useful links:
Monarch feeding
Monarch misconceptions (PDF)
Common Milkweed (PDF)

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