Monarchs and Milkweeds

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Monarch caterpillar feeding on Milkweed at the Lakeland Audubon pollinator garden

By Kevin Dickey, Conservation Chair – Lakeland Audubon Society


 Monarchs need Milkweed plants, it’s something many of us have heard before. The plants are essential for these butterflies to complete their life-cycle. It’s the only plant species that they will lay their eggs upon, because it’s the only plant that their caterpillars feed on. So adding a few to your garden can have a positive impact on Monarch Butterflies. Any type can be of benefit, but especially ones that are native to our area. There are fourteen milkweed species that are native to Wisconsin. The following link is to a website that I found to be a good resource on milkweed;
The three most common milkweed species that are planted in Wisconsin gardens is: Common Milkweed, Swamp Milkweed and Butterfly Milkweed. All three of these species are native to our area and adapt well to most garden conditions. There are many cultivars of the latter two species and these cultivars (sometimes referred to as nativars) may not provide all the benefits that the “pure” native varieties would, so be mindful of this before you include cultivated varieties of milkweed in your garden.

 

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