Plant a seed... Save a butterflyBy starlight1153 (starlight1153) on April 9, 2010
|Butterflies with their flashing colors and patterns, are some of the most beautiful creatures in the world. For thousands of years these small delicate creatures have delighted humans with their fluttering around from place to place and flower to flower. Butterflies bring such joy to all that behold them from the youngest child to the eldest adult. They are also one of the few rare species of creatures that are harmless to man, his garden, and farmers to their crops.|
The majority of butterflies have a very short life span in which to complete their life cycle. Generally, it is only a month or two. In that short period of time, they must evolve from an egg to an adult and be able to reproduce if the species is to survive. How successful a butterfly may be at completing its life cycle is in direct control with the environment surrounding it. The adults need specific nectar plants and the larva require host plants upon which to feed if they are to flourish.
Asclepias, is the scientific name of the Milkweed plant they use. There are many cultivars of Asclepias. Some cultivars do better for different areas. The one cultivar that you want to watch planting though is that of Asclepias verticillta L., the Whorled Milkweed if you live in a country-type area where cattle and livestock are raised. This particular type of Milkweed is an acute toxin to the animals and should not be planted. This particular Milkweed will retain it’s toxins even when dry and an animal consuming 2 to 3% of this Milkweed in it’s diet can cause death (2).
One of the reasons Monarchs prefer the Milkweed plant is because some Asclepias plants contains cardiac glycosides (heart poisons). It is this poison which makes some birds vomit if they try to eat a Monarch butterfly, thus offering the Monarch some protection from predators. Not all Monarchs' are poisonous. For a Monarch to be poisonous, its larva must digest some of the plant.
The following is a list of just a few of the many Asclepias that so well in most areas.
Asclepias californica Asclepias speciosa
Asclepias cryptoceras Asclepias subulata
Asclepias curassavica Asclepias tuberosa
Asclepias eriocarpa Asclepias variegata
Asclepias incarnata Asclepias verticulata
It would be sad if this beautiful butterfly became extinct. By planting even one Milkweed plant, you can help to save this species. There are many places available on the web that sell Milkweed plants. In an effort to help the Monarch butterfly thrive for future genrations, I am offering free Asclepias seeds, while supply lasts, to anybody who will take the time to grow them. Too request free seeds, c-mail me.
Many thanks to Imapigeon/Janet and Marilyn for use of their photographs. http://cubits.org/ellasgarden/db/butterfliesoftheworl/view/1289/
2. Minimizing Live Stock Plant Poisoning on Western Nebraska Rangelands. Scott. E. Cotton. NebGuide. July 2009 http://elkhorn.unl.edu/epublic/pages/publicationD.jsp?publicationId=1186.
3. Butterflies of North America, A Natural History and Field, Guide. J. Scott. 1986. Stanford California. University Press. pp 229
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