Plant Milkweed to Save the Monarch Butterfly Population
Summer is underway and nature is in full bloom. The outdoors are alive, buzzing with a variety of insects. Unfortunately, the Monarch butterfly population is becoming increasingly scarce with each passing season. Formerly a common bug across the United States, the Monarch butterfly is on consideration for the Endangered Species List due to threatened breeding habitats. The milkweed plant, essential for the reproductive cycle of the Monarch butterfly, is disappearing as a result of industrialization and herbicide use.
Milkweed and its Role:
Milkweed is a wild perennial found aside roads, intermingled in soybean crops, and grouped amongst wildflower fields. Milkweed is a tall plant with large green leaves, emerald colored seedpods, and pink bunches of flowers. Milkweed blooms from spring to fall. Also, almost every portion of the lower 48 states has a native milkweed variety. This weed is vital for the survival of the Monarch butterfly species. Monarch butterflies lay their larvae specifically on milkweed plants. The larvae develop into caterpillars who “munch” on the wild perennial. Moreover, the ingestion of milkweed provides a natural defense mechanism for these winged beauties. The milky sap of the plant contains distinct glycosides that, after ingested, make the insect toxic to its predators. Bees, beetles, and moths who also enjoy the pollen and nectar of the milkweed plant do not become poisonous to their predators. Neither the pollen nor nectar of the perennial contain the specific glycosides.
How you can help?
Help protect the habitat of the Monarch butterfly by planting milkweed in your own yard. Purchasing milkweed seeds is inexpensive or free depending on the distributor you choose. To plant the natural perennial, till the soil with a rake in the location where the seeds will be planted. Scatter seeds approximately 0.5 inches apart and cover the seeds with a thin layer of topsoil (0.25 inch deep). Experts suggest to plant milkweed seeds in conjunction with wild flower seeds to mimic the Monarch butterflies natural breeding habitats.