The Q&A Archives: Pesticides on Milkweed

Question: I purchased some milkweed recently because I had some hungry Monarch caterpillars that had finished off the leaves of my existing milkweed. Within a week of munching the new plant, the caterpillars were all dead. Would I be right to say that the plant probably had been sprayed with pesticides and that killed all the caterpillars? Why would anyone want to buy milkweed if not for the butterflies.. Home Depot shouldn't allow pesticides on their butterfly plants. I could return the plant, but with gas prices now a days, it would cost me more to return it than to keep it. How do I make it buttefly safe - wash it down, cut off all the leaves, help!

Answer: Gelcys,

Pesticide is a possibility but I have not known a retailer that sprayed the plants. They just aren't on site long enough to worry about such things. It is possible they were sprayed by the growers but for that plant I also doubt anything so long term as to affect them after you purchased and planted them was used. There are diseases of caterpillars that may have been involved. I suggest just to be sure you spray the plants off several times spraying upward from beneath plants too. I don't think that even if it was a pesticide that the product would be so persistant as to continue to do damage a weed or more later.

Good luck with your plants. I too have a butterfly garden and understand the concern. Thanks for the question. Please stop in again soon!

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