Loving monarchs to death

The lead story in today’s Science Times concerns a new threat to monarchs: too much love. It seems that people in northern areas are planting milkweed for monarchs, which is great, but some are planting tropical milkweed species instead of our native temperate zone species. Finding milkweed at the wrong time of year, the monarchs breed out of season, leading to reproductive failure and high rates of disease. Nature is complicated.

If you plant milkweed for monarchs, stick to native species, such as orange butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa), which blooms in June, is very tolerant of dry sites, and is shown here with bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)

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or red milkweed (A. incarnata), which blooms June-July and is taller and more moisture tolerant

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or common milkweed (A. syriaca), which has large, leathery leaves and can still be found growing wild in our area.

Photo by Rachel Vannette

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