David Anderson Real Estate

The Relationship: Monarchs and Milkweed

04 May 2017
David Anderson

The Relationship:  Monarchs and Milkweed

The Monarch Butterfly relies on Milkweed (Asclepias spp.) to lay its eggs on and protect its yonge caterpillars from predators.  In fact, milkweek is the ONLY plant Monarchs will Lay their eggs on.

Monarch on Milkweed

(Monarch butterlfy on Milkweed)

The reason is Milkweed contains a toxin that has a very unpleasant taste and causes vomiting if ingested by livestock. This is their natural defence, and the monarchs know this, and their caterpillars love it.   Once the caterpillars eat the leaves, they take on the same properties as the milkweed making them unpalatable and warding off predators.

Wilkweed was once abundant in farmers fields growing nicely with crops such as wheat, corn, soybeans and much more.   Soon pesticide resistant  crops and over use of pesticides killed off most of the Wilkweed.    Also, being previously listed as a noxious weed and being toxic to livestock, farmers went to great lenghts to remove the plant.  

With  the demise of the plant,  so goes the monarch's only place to lay her eggs.   

It is plainly obvious that the destruction and neglect of Milkweed could be the cause of extinction of the Monarch.  One way we can help is to replenish Milkweed in our own front and backyards in a pollintaor garden consisting of plant species indiginous to the area.