A writer inspired by nature and human nature


GOT MILKWEED? Monarch butterflies and other amazing pollinators need it and we need them! ~ Bette A. Stevens, Maine author/illustrator http://www.4writersandreaders.com

The Natural Web

One of the most well knownassociations between an animal and plant species is the relationship between Monarch butterflies and Milkweed. Monarch butterflies may certainly be seen nectaringat various species of milkweeds…

Monarch nectaring on Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) Monarch nectaringon Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

Monarch nectaring on Butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa) Monarch nectaringon Butterflyweed(Asclepias tuberosa)

Monarch nectaring on Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) Monarch nectaringon Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)

but this isn’t unique – they also drink at a wide variety of other flower species.

Monarch nectaring on New York Ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis) Monarch nectaringon New York Ironweed(Vernonianoveboracensis)

It’s the dependency that Monarchs have on Milkweedsas the only food source for their caterpillars that makes this relationship so noteworthy. Monarchs, like many species of insects, have evolved to specialize in their larval (in this case caterpillar) food source in order togain protection from predators through the chemicals they ingest from the plants they eat. Milkweedscontain cardiac glycosides, which are toxic to many species of birds and mammals. Plants have evolved these chemicals to protect themselves from being eaten, a strategy…

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Comments on: "Milkweed – It’s Not Just for Monarchs" (18)

  1. Informative post and a great photo essay. Thanks Bette for sharing this and helping to save the magnificent Monarch butterfly.

    • Hi, James. Thanks for the visit and for your support of of our amazing Monarch butterflies. Have a beautiful weekend, my friend! 🙂 Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

  2. Beautiful pictures and very informative, Bette!🌿

  3. We have not had any luck with growing things lately. Between the caterpillars and lack of rain — it was dry through June — it has been very much a siege of us against the elements. I’m hoping we are nearing the end of this year’s drama, the air currently FULL of moths. Very unpleasant out there. Maybe next year we’ll have a real summer.

    • Weather here has been exceptionally nice, but we are in dire need of rain. Some sort of insect is demolishing leaves on our cherry trees, pear tree and snowball bushes. Dan’s been shingling the roof and our gardens are overrun with weeds and wild flowers. Some are lovely. I pull as many as I can with my bad back and knees. The milkweed is flourishing and in full bloom. Hopefully the Monarchs will find them. We’ve had a flurry of Swallowtails this year and I managed to get a few nice photos. From this article, I found that they like the cherry trees, so I hope we don’t lose them. Wishing you a Fantastic Fourth and a reprieve from the pesky insects. Hugs! ❤

  4. What fabulous photos, Bette! I am not sure if we have any milkweed down here – I haven’t seen any!

    • My gardens are filled with Milkweed in full bloom right now, Noelle. Now for the Monarchs! Spotted a few orange wings in flight today–lovely, but no Monarchs yet… 🙂

  5. Love the photos and great info, Bette.

    • Thanks for the visit, Diana. Our milkweed is in full bloom, but no Monarchs yet. Swallowtails have been out in force for the last month though. Have a wonderful summer, my friend! ¸¸.•¨¯`•. ★ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

  6. Nature never ceases to amaze me by its beauty and resourcefulness. Amazing photos here, Bette and fantastic information.

  7. This is so informative. I was amazed as always at how insects and animals seem to do a better job at survival than humanity. I also read that the very glycosides that you mention have been put into wheat products making bread as all wheat grains toxic and a carcinogen to people. We could learn much from the amazing butterflies.

    • You’re so right, Micki. We have so much to learn from the natural world. Let’s hope we (humanity) start(s) to take it seriously. Blessings & love, ❤ Bette

  8. Thanks for sharing this. I think my girls would enjoy looking at it! Thanks for sharing this at the Booknificent Thursday link-up on Mommynificent.com this week!
    Tina

    • Thanks, Tina. Have a wonderful week and a great time discovering some amazing facts about milkweed, monarch butterflies and other critical pollinators in the Natural Web with your girls! 🙂

  9. Bette, what a beautiful post! Milkweed often has a bad rap when it comes to gardeners. It’s a lovely plant and the monarchs are beautiful to watch.

    • Thanks, Michelle. Our milkweed is in full bloom right now and I’m checking for monarchs every day. Hope I get some awesome pix. Cheers for all of the amazing wonders in our world. 🙂

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