Gardener123
Green Thumb
Posts: 379
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2013 2:07 pm
Location: 25 miles west of CC Philadelphia

Intentionally planting weeds for butterflies

I want to plant some milkweed to attract and feed Monarch butterflies.

Last year I saw only ONE Monarch butterfly. Do you think that planting milkweed will attract more? I know that that is what they eat. I am just hoping to help keep the species going if I can..... I hear that it is quickly disappearing.
Living the good life with my wife and 2 wonderful daughters!

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25279
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Re: Intentionally planting weeds for butterflies

Despite the name, I don't think of milkweed as a "weed." ! But yes, everyone should be planting milkweed (aka butterfly weed, aka asclepias) for the monarchs. Then plant parsley or dill for the swallowtails (and let them overwinter and bloom in the second year).

Let some thistles or mallows bloom for the painted ladies, maypop (passion vine) for the fritillaries, and clover or peas for the sulphurs.

And never use insecticides!!!!
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

User avatar
ElizabethB
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2105
Joined: Sat Nov 24, 2012 12:53 am
Location: Lafayette, LA

Re: Intentionally planting weeds for butterflies

DITTO RBG. I love milkweed. The flower is actually very attractive. Aphids will gather on the flowers and the tender stems. As RBG said - no insecticides. Treating for aphids will kill any caterpillars that hatch and feed on your plants.

In south Louisiana milkweed is a tender perennial. It also self seeds. I harvest seeds every year just in case - like after this past winter - I had to plant new seeds.

I love the entire process. The aphids attack the flowers, the monarch lays her eggs on the under side of the leaves. The caterpillars hatch and strip the plant of it's leaves then moves off to make a chrysalis. A monarch emerges from the chrysalis. The plant puts out new leaves and the process begins again. Did you know that the leaves contain toxins? The monarch caterpillars are immune to the toxins but if a bird eats the caterpillar the bird will get sick and/or die. Over the millenniums, birds have learned not to eat the brightly colored monarch caterpillars. Isn't Nature grand? :-()
Elizabeth - or Your Majesty

Living and growing in Lafayette, La.

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25279
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Re: Intentionally planting weeds for butterflies

Nature is grand and very complex. And then since the birds have learned not to eat the brightly colored monarch and its caterpillars, other creatures such as the viceroy butterfly adopt the same coloration:

Image
https://www.learner.org/jnorth/images/gr ... rch_ID.jpg

the viceroy is not toxic, but it "borrows" protection by looking like the monarch that is.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

User avatar
ElizabethB
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2105
Joined: Sat Nov 24, 2012 12:53 am
Location: Lafayette, LA

Re: Intentionally planting weeds for butterflies

Thanks RBG. I knew there was another butterfly that mimicked the monarch but forgot what it was. Mother Nature at her best. :-()
Elizabeth - or Your Majesty

Living and growing in Lafayette, La.

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown

Susan W
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1858
Joined: Mon Jul 06, 2009 2:46 pm
Location: Memphis, TN

Re: Intentionally planting weeds for butterflies

check the Milkweed thread under perennials.
Have fun!
Susan

Gardener123
Green Thumb
Posts: 379
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2013 2:07 pm
Location: 25 miles west of CC Philadelphia

Re: Intentionally planting weeds for butterflies

Seems to have worked.... in the last few days I have seen 2 or 3 Monarchs, though they were small. Like just about the size of a quarter.
Living the good life with my wife and 2 wonderful daughters!

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 28238
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 7:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: Intentionally planting weeds for butterflies

Hmm... I suspect what you saw were Viceroy butterflies.
:arrow: https://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/spec ... -archippus
They start make their first appearance shortly before the Monarchs arrive.

Monarchs that you'll see this time of the year shouldn't be unusually small since they would be the migrating butterflies. Later on in the season, you might occasionally come across small undernourished Monarchs that for some reason had metamorphosed without reaching full size.

They usually don't survive the rigors of migration, however.

Monarchs should be coming around any day though. I saw one the other day -- the usual ones and two earliest scouts that I see in late June-early July, but I usually don't see the main group arrive until closer to mid-July. But you may see them earlier where you are since you are probably closer to the main migration route along the river and also may intercept the Pennsylvania interior migration group.

I think the ones that come to my garden are mostly from the Delaware Bay-Cape May coastal migration route and take longer to come north.
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

Gardener123
Green Thumb
Posts: 379
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2013 2:07 pm
Location: 25 miles west of CC Philadelphia

Re: Intentionally planting weeds for butterflies

Possibly. But they look an awful lot alike to me. But I am no expert on butterflies.
Living the good life with my wife and 2 wonderful daughters!

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25279
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Re: Intentionally planting weeds for butterflies

see the pictures I posted earlier in this thread. The Viceroy is a Monarch mimic and does look a lot alike.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 28238
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 7:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: Intentionally planting weeds for butterflies

Same site as the one rainbowgardener posted link for
:arrow: https://www.learner.org/jnorth/tm/monarch/Viceroy1.html
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

imafan26
Mod
Posts: 11681
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 8:32 am
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: Intentionally planting weeds for butterflies

Here butterfly weed (asclepsia) not the weedy milkweed and crown flower are the best for attracting monarchs. butterfly weed will also attract other butterflies.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.



Return to “Wildlife - Gardening with Local Critters in Mind”