Off Subject - Reminder Pant Milkweed for endangered Monarch

joeinmo 6b-7aMay 1, 2014

Pesticides and habitat loss have made this year the worst ever for the Monarch Butterfly. At one time numbering in the hundreds of millions, the numbers are now down to a few hundred thousand, some scientific evidence says this year may be their last sustainable year.

Please plant milk weed, all varieties, butterfly bush and Crown Flower, and bee balm, viburnums, and lilac.

for more info

Here is a link that might be useful: More about Monarchs

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beng(z6 western MD)

Yeah, I watched NOVA on PBS. :)

Fortunately, all over the place here in rural area. The caterpillars are easy to find mid-summer on.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 8:41AM
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brit5467(7b/8a Coastal VA)

I bet the butterfly forum would appreciate your efforts...maybe post this over there, too??

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 8:45AM
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Please don't plant butterfly bush (a non-native) in places where it has been documented to be invasive.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 8:52AM
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I appreciate the OP's interest in Monarch butterflies. It looks like he gets his info from his link where they list butterfly bush as nectar plant. Most of the naturalists today consider butterfly bush to be junk food for butterflies and don't recommend it.
In my state we have no less than 13 native species of milkweed but the most popular host plant is Common Milkweed or Asclepias syriaca
This link on the butterfly forum mentions honeyvine which is a seldom mentioned monarch host.

Here is a link that might be useful: Butterfly forum

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 9:35AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

the only reason its off topic.. is that mildweed is a perennial.. rather than a tree..


    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 10:19AM
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joeinmo 6b-7a

Ahhhh...yes a bunch of east coaster replies. You need to visit the central US sometime not everything evolves around the east coast.

I said off topic because its not a tree. Butterfly bush helps Monarchs on their routes back to Mexico because it lasts well into fall when everything else is dead.

No I don't get all my information from Monarch watch, one of our state Universities in the area has done extensive research on the Monarch.

Over 80% of the Monarch habitat has been lost in the US is to farming, and I have nothing against farming however with the advent of Roundup pesticide crops that you eat and the killing of native plants, the Monarch has lost the ability to reproduce and / or is wiped out like the honey bees from pesticide. Most of this happens from Texas to Illinois to Canada, not really on the east coast, because farming there has mostly been lost, lots to development, others because the cost of business is too high to stay in business, welcome to America.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 11:37PM
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Re: butterfly bush: All I said was don't plant it where it is a known invasive. I didn't say don't plant it at all. But there are places where it is invasive and people should not be encouraged to use it in those areas.

If you are going to advocate for something, at least present all the information so people can be aware.

As for fall nectar sources, goldenrod is a fabulous fall nectar source for monarchs (nature makes sure that there are native plants very much alive during that time such as goldenrod, aster, blazing star, fall thoroughworts, helianthus). As they come through Georgia in late September, that is one plant that they visit very much.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 8:59AM
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beng(z6 western MD)

Butterfly bush is a useful nectar source for monarchs & other butterflies since it has such a long blooming period. Tell the myriad of Monarchs here taking nectar from it in late summer/early autumn that it's junk.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 9:03AM
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brit5467(7b/8a Coastal VA)

Since I'm one of the "eastcoasters" you refer to, I feel the need to defend my post. I love butterflies (but am not knowledgable about them).

I simply meant exactly what I said....that I bet the butterfly forum would appreciate the info you provided, in 'also'.

I wasn't insinuating or suggesting anything else.


    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 9:16AM
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Last summer I had two large, healthy monarch caterpillars develop on my common milkweed. I studied them as they formed bejeweled, jade-colored chrysalis. They never became adults and I don't know why, maybe some kind of parasite.
There have been countless debates about monarchs and honeybees and why they are in decline. It's probably a combination of several factors. Last year I asked the question why haven't tussock moths declined since they also use milkweed? If anything, they have increased.
I don't think that one can be a middle of the road ecologist/naturalist, it's kind of like being a little bit pregnant.
Butterfly bush is to butterflies as Autumn Olive is to migrating birds.
I took this pic last September 16. This patch of Wild Ageratum Eupatorium coelestinum covers a couple of acres. It is one of countless composites which are summer and fall bloomers. These are the chief sources of nectar for Monarchs today just as they have been for 1000's of years. The range of such plants extends to t he mid-west and down to the gulf coast.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 7:38PM
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I think really needs to do their homework and responsibly post more info on Milkweed varieties before just advocating wholesale, indiscriminate planting of them. That way you don't compound one problem with another!

Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) can be invasive due to its large size, 20' deep taproots and runners..

Some say Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) can also be invasive in good soil.

Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) & Tropical Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) are probably safer bets, if you really want to plant Milkweed for monarchs...

Here is a link that might be useful: Common Milkweed

    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 9:54PM
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KC Clark - Zone 2012-6a OH

Tropical milkweed is not a safer bet if you are trying to help the monarchs.

People like to say that tropical milkweed is an annual. Well, I'm in 6a and it just keeps coming back and taking over more and more of my front yard. I planted it when I thought it was good for monarchs. Then I got to see firsthand how it messes with the migration. Now I cannot get rid of it.

I find Asclepias tuberosa to be pretty much a waste of space if you just want monarch caterpillars. I grow it because it is a preferred hostplant for a scarce moth. I have never seen a monarch caterpillar on it. YMMV

I wish I could get swamp milkweed to be invasive. Mine rarely lasts more than a season or two.

I used to be a butterfly bush guy. Then I found out that it can literally take over an area. You end up with a butterfly bush monoculture. Nothing eats the leaves. There are not that many flowers because no one is deadheading. It is close to a dead zone for nature in this country. Maryland is one of the states where it is showing up in natural areas. Buttonbush is my favorite replacement but it is not going to help feed monarchs on their way south. Goldenrod is what I mainly see fall monarchs on when I'm wandering around natural areas.


    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 1:17AM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

I have Vernonias on the wild parts of my property and they seem to enjoy stopping at those flowers in the fall.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 10:31AM
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beng(z6 western MD)

Sam, I see a few of those Eupatorium coelestinum around here, but the majority of the fall flowers are asters (white and lavender) and goldenrod. Both are very valuable (especially the asters) for late-season honey-production for honeybees as well as monarchs & others. But butterfly bush here provides nectar mid-July thru August before those fall flowers bloom.

I've never seen a wild butterfly bush (buddleia) -- what seeds develop seem to be non-viable. So, IMO, plant as many butterfly bushes as you like -- they aren't invasive and attract swarms of interesting insects & even hummingbirds.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 11:18AM
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KC Clark - Zone 2012-6a OH

When I grew butterfly bush, I would never have imagined it could be invasive. I never had plants come up from the seeds. Some of the bushes required a lot of care to grow. Not my idea of something that could take over on its own.

The reality was it would never take over my yard because my yard did not meet the conditions needed. OTOH, the seeds from my bushes could have been carried by the wind to an area that did have the proper conditions.

Stream banks seem to be the favored place for a takeover. I've also read that dry stream beds and dunes work well.

Maryland's official noxious weed list contains just six plants and does not include butterfly bush. The state does put out an additional list of plants that threaten Maryland forests. Butterfly bush is on that list.

Here is a link that might be useful: Picture of butterfly bush taking over

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 3:16PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

That article takes a somewhat politically correct slant on the subject.

FACT: overpopulation of deer is helping invasive thrive over natives, because they'd rather eat natives to extinction. The exotics taste bad to deer. But, oh no, we can't kill off bambi. This actually leads to an amusing scenario where "leftists" and "rightists" end up on the same side of the issue. The former don't want culling of herds because OMG the poor deer will be shot, the latter don't want deer to be too hard to find when they hunt, so they see state herd "management" as a good thing. I've heard some old burghers of Harford county talk about their hunts on the MARC train. They can bag 5-8 deer in a single night! Too easy I say! A handful of us sane ones are left in the middle, who realize deer should be hunted as close as possible to extinction east of the Appalachians. Without a top order predator, they are now out of ecological balance. Otherwise, we have to allow coyotes and wolves back into the area, and worry about our cats and yippy dogs being eaten. (And yes, I'm glad they have killed the ones they do, I have no doubt the reason I don't have near the deer problem people in more genteel areas like the Philly Mainline do is because they are being killed in massive numbers by locals. Keep killing, guys!)

FACT: the alteration of the landscape on the east coast has created artificial environments where exotics thrive. Yet where is this writer advocating the complete cessation of absolutely all land development of any kind, to save what's left? Let's close all the railroads, and highways, since they create corridors for invasives to move. (in some cases, even invasives from other parts of the US! I have no doubt the Baccharis halimifolia along I-95 north of Baltimore are not native to that area.) Sorry, politically progressive ecologically minded writers. No more Acela for you. Flying will help preserve native woodlands much better.

FACT: 95% of native species have been lost their range to farming, not to invasives. The problem is really that invasive and natives are fighting for tiny pieces of the pie that are left after agriculture. Yet, is the writer advocating the wholesale abandonment of agricultural lands? I don't see that anywhere. One of the reasons people like the landscape of Maryland versus some other states is how much "open land' there is, because "liberal" Maryland was a pioneer in undertaking means to protect agricultural land. As you fly over the Potomac to land at Dulles, the contrast being the MoCo agricultural preserve and NoVA is stark. Yes those fields create forest edges which would not otherwise exist, and are exactly the places where invasives take hold.

FACT: she's actually wrong about all of those being introduced by the so-called horticultural trade. Multiflora was brought into control soil erosion - doesn't sound like horticulture to me, sounds like agriculture. Other invasives were brought in by private agricultural interests.

So, I actually agree that people should plant butterfly bush with caution, but the whole issue of invasives has a larger ecological context that many of these native plant snobs ignore. Here's a great article by Stephen Jay Gould on the matter:

Here is a link that might be useful:

This post was edited by davidrt28 on Mon, May 5, 14 at 20:07

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 7:57PM
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I just received this link regarding monarch waystations. The good people in Loudoun County VA are supporting the use of waystation creation for monarchs and they include species lists to use

Here is a link that might be useful: Monarch Way Stations

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 8:50AM
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