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What is the connection between monarchs and milkweed?

There is a symbiotic relationship between the native milkweed plants and the monarch. The monarch butterflies enjoy the nectar from the flowers and help pollinate the plants. The successful pollination allows the milkweed to thrive and thus provide more nurseries for the crucial ‘fourth generation’ of monarchs.

Do Monarchs pollinate milkweed?

Monarch butterflies need milkweed plants to lay their eggs. More than beautiful, monarch butterflies contribute to the health of our planet. While feeding on nectar, they pollinate many types of wildflowers. As the caterpillar hatches, it eats its own egg; then switches to a diet of milkweed leaves.

How does the milkweed plant protect itself from Monarch caterpillars?

Milkweed does everything in its power to defend itself against being eaten by monarchs. They make sandpapery leaves, toxins that can stop a human heart, and a thick poisonous goo that can glue an insect’s mouth shut.

Can monarch caterpillars eat anything other than milkweed?

Actually, no. Monarch caterpillars do only eat plants in the Milkweed family (Asclepias spp), so if we want to help them out in our wildlife gardens, we still need to add these plants to our gardens. Monarch caterpillars do not feed on tomato plants, despite what may seem like circumstantial evidence to the contrary.

What happens when Monarch caterpillars run out of milkweed?

Running out of milkweed leaves this time of year is NORMAL. This is natures way of insuring fresh leaves for the next generation. This is the most important generation as it will migrate to Mexico. You WILL have some caterpillars that will turn to chrysalis.

What does a monarch caterpillar eat before it starts eating milkweed?

They really only eat milkweed, which is why the Monarch butterflies find the milkweed to lay their eggs on it. But if you run out of milkweed, at least the older caterpillars will eat butternut squash (and pumpkin I think), and will grow enough to then turn into chrysalises and then butterflies.

What do monarch caterpillars look like when molting?

It is fairly obvious when a caterpillar is preparing to molt. They withdraw their heads from their head capsules, causing a larger bulge than normal behind the head capsule. The old cuticles look as if the caterpillars died and are just dried up, hanging from the plant. Many species leave their host plants to molt.

Which milkweed is not invasive?

Swamp milkweed

Can milkweed grow in the shade?

Most milkweed species evolved in open areas where they were exposed to full sunlight and they will do best if they are planted in the sunniest areas of your gardens. A few species, such as A. purpurascens, appear to require partial shade.

How aggressive is milkweed?

In the landscape, common milkweed is often too aggressive and weedy to be widely appropriate for beds and borders. It is much better suited to unmaintained edges of fields or thickets. If you already have common milkweed in the garden, you can prevent further spread by removing immature seed pods.

Do you need to cut back milkweed?

It is recommended to prune the milkweed stalks to about 6 inches in height during the fall and winter months to discourage monarchs from establishing winter-breeding colonies. Cutting back the milkweed will also help to eliminate OE spores that may be present on the plant.

Why is my milkweed not flowering?

The cause of milkweed not blooming may be as simple as too much fertilizer or fertilizer runoff. Milkweed without flowers growing along regularly fertilized lawns, gardens or crop fields are probably getting too much nitrogen, which can cause lush green growth and a lack of blooms. Bone meal can help offset this.

Does milkweed bloom all summer?

After a long-bloom that can last much of the summer, seed pods will form that open in the fall, starting the cycle anew. You can collect these seeds once the pods have begun to turn brown and open, sowing your own milkweed seeds.

How can you tell the difference between milkweed and dogbane?

Differences: Common milkweed has a hairy stem, unlike dogbane. When mature, the dogbane stem branches in the upper portion of the plant. The flowers also look quite different. Common milkweed flowers are pinkish, large and ball shaped, whereas dogbane flowers are whitish green and in small clusters.

How do you identify milkweed?

Milkweed is perhaps most well-known for its milky sap or for the latex contained within its leaves. You can break a leaf to see if a plant you suspect to be milkweed has milky sap. Be careful not to ingest or get milkweed sap in your eyes.