Are All Milkweeds Good For Monarchs?

Jason at Garden In a City has an interesting post about the possible harm done to Monarch butterflies by planting tropical milkweed (Asclepias currasavica). Read it, and the NYT article it’s based on: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/18/science/monarchs-may-be-loved-to-death.html

gardeninacity

There was an interesting article in the New York Times on Monday about Monarch butterflies and milkweed. The takeaway is that planting Tropical Milkweed (Asclepias currasavica) may do more harm than good, according to several researchers.

Tropical Milkweed. Photo from University of Florida. Tropical Milkweed. Photo from University of Florida.

Milkweeds, of course, are the only plants that are eaten by the caterpillars of Monarch butterflies.Changes in farming practices have led to a huge decrease in the number of native milkweeds. This in turn has been perhaps the chief cause in the decline of the Monarchs. As a result, gardeners have been encouraged to plant more Milkweed – but not all Milkweeds are created equal.

Monarch butterflies Monarch on Swamp Milkweed

The danger from Tropical Milkweed is two fold. First, the availability of Tropical Milkweed in the fall and winter may disrupt the migration behavior of Monarchs – so that they settle down and breed instead…

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