I need it to survive, I need it like a fish needs water and a human needs air….

Milkweed….the plant of my existence –Monarch Butterfly

The monarch butterfly is an iconic one; when the average person thinks of a butterfly- they are picturing that white spotted; orange and black butterfly.  Its orange wings illuminate against the green leaves of plants and trees in the summer time.  Its easily recognizable and is found in Mexico, Canada and the United States.  Now that you are picturing that bright orange, white and black little beauty- let me tell you this…it is in decline.  Reproduction of monarchs relies on milkweed plants- they do not lay their eggs on anything but milkweed! Crazy I know, but TRUTH! Milkweed is like a little hotel for monarch butterflies.

In the spring time, monarchs lay their eggs on milkweed plants and when they hatch the milkweed leaves becomes food for the larvae.  They eat, eat, and eat the leaves of the plant until they are a full blown caterpillar.  The monarch caterpillar is also beautifully orange, black and white.  When the caterpillar is fully grown it finds a safe place to form a chrysalis to become a beautiful butterfly- just like I learned in grade school!  Monarch butterflies also require nectar for food- gives them energy to fly and migrate- its their Gatorade!

I chose to talk about Monarchs and Milkweed because earlier this week I was out on a site visit doing the typical- hugging trees- I mean checking out oak wilt and other diseases on the property and I ran across on acre sized field of milkweed!! A Monarchs paradise! This summer at the conservation district we have really been focusing on planting native plants for promoting native pollinators.  Non-native plants do nothing for our local pollinators; bats, moths, butterflies, birds, bees, beetles and other insects all do their part to pollinate our foods such as fruits, apples, nuts, pumpkins and even chocolate depends on pollinators- so we need to provide those plants for them! Do it for the Chocolate if nothing else convinces you to plant natives!!

http://monarchjointventure.org/   -For more information on Monarchs and different species of milkweed

I fly thousands of miles back to show you my beauty and grace each year- but I cannot do it without a home provided to me with milkweed.  Go Native–Plant Milkweed!

Common Milkweed
Common Milkweed
Close up!
Close up!

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