Plant Milkweed to Help Monarch Butterflies: Attracting Monarch Butterflies

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Name: Bea Kimball
Little Rock, Arkansas; (Zone 7b)
Hellebores Hummingbirder Butterflies Irises Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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Buzzbea424
Jun 17, 2017 2:39 PM CST
Besides planting butterfly weed, is there another way to attract monarch butterflies? I had lots of caterpillars on my butterfly weed at my last home, but I move three blocks away. Since then I have had caterpillars only once in 20 years. I have lots of adult butterflies of other species in my Little Rock, Arkansas garden as well as various types of bees. Is there anything else I can do?

Signor
Jun 17, 2017 9:59 PM CST
I have the same question. Hope we get some information. Love this site.

66GardenGirl
Jun 18, 2017 9:40 AM CST
I have several gardens at our home in Maine, zone 5, and I have lots of flowers that Monarch butterflies like. We also a field that borders our property that is full of milkweed plants each summer, but I have not any caterpillars on the milkweed plants. The first year we lived here we had lots of Monarchs in our yard. However, for the past 6 years we have hardly seen any.
We do see other butterflies and lots of dragonflies around our yard. We also have a vegetable garden along with the flower garden and we have never used any pesticides on our property. The field where the milkweed plants grow profusely just grows wild and there have been no pesticides used on the field either. We have friends who live around our area of Maine and other friends who live north and south of us in Maine and we're hearing the same stories about not having any Monarchs around.

Do you have any thoughts about this matter?
North Central TX (Zone 8a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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tx_flower_child
Jun 18, 2017 8:43 PM CST
Earlier today I read the questions y'all asked and got distracted. But the distraction turned up some useful information. Hope this will be helpful for @Buzzbea424 @Signor and @66GardenGirl.

The Xerces Society is an excellent resource. Today I saw that they have plant lists for specific regions. Look for yours at this link: http://xerces.org/pollinator-c...

@Buzzbea424 - If I understand you correctly, you want nectar plants for Monarchs (how they get 'sugar highs') but not host plants (where they lay their eggs). Monarchs get nectar from many plants. But they only will use Milkweed for host plants. There are many types of Milkweed (Asclepias) and you will need to find the ones that are most suited for your location.
Take a look in the Plants Database https://garden.org/plants/sear...

You also might want to browse through this forum where members discuss what they are growing, what works for them, characteristics of different Asclepias, etc. Plus it might be a good place to ask questions:
The thread "Growing Milkweeds" in Gardening for Butterflies, Birds and Bees forum

There are so many nectar plants that the Monarchs love. I live in Texas in Zone 8a and have monarchs all over my Gregg's Blue Mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum). See it here:
Blue Mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum)

Another example is Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). See it here:
Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

Whether you are looking for nectar or host plants, be sure to find ones that are native to where you live. And a word of warning about buying Milkweed plants. Some growers treat the plants with neonicotinoid and other insecticides which are death sentences for Monarchs. Always ask if the plants have been 'treated'. If the answer is 'yes' or 'huh?', go somewhere else.

June 19 - 25 is Pollinator Week and I bet there will be a lot of information posted on NGA and other sites. (But NGA is the best!) Check out how you can register your garden as part of the Million Pollinator Gardens Project: https://garden.org/pollinators...

Oh, and welcome to NGA!
[Last edited by tx_flower_child - Jun 18, 2017 8:56 PM (+)]
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North Central TX (Zone 8a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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tx_flower_child
Jun 19, 2017 3:53 PM CST
@Buzzbea424 @Signor and @66GardenGirl Sorry. Ms. Chatterbox here thinks she misunderstood your question(s).

First, @Buzzbea424 - Do you have any type of milkweed planted now as opposed to where you used to live?

Second, @Signor - Don't know where you live (as in general area). Do you have any nectar plants and any milkweed plants?

And @66GardenGirl - Doesn't sound good. I know we have members from Maine. Not sure if any grow milkweed. Has there been any type of change to the general environment like new industry or something? Wonder if the Monarchs have changed their route???? I know nothing. I'm going to the thread "Growing Milkweeds" in Gardening for Butterflies, Birds and Bees forum to see if I can learn anything.
North Central TX (Zone 8a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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tx_flower_child
Jun 19, 2017 4:29 PM CST
@66GardenGirl - Someone from PA said it might be too early to see Monarchs. Hasn't seen any yet in PA. (But I forgot to mention that it's been years.)
North Central TX (Zone 8a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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tx_flower_child
Jun 19, 2017 4:51 PM CST
Y'all - check out this map. Shows the current migration. Only a few reported so far in Maine. And that was a few days ago.
http://www.learner.org/jnorth/...
Name: Olga Hriscko

olgahrisco
Jun 20, 2017 4:09 PM CST
I have a question since this is my first time trying to grow milkweed and attracting butterflies. I have five milkweed plants and I have some bugs on them that are orange with a black spot by the head.. a black strip across the middle and a black spot by the bottom of the back. Are these harmful to the plants and how do I get rid of them? Also I have a lot of aphids which I know I can spray a soapy and water solution but I saw a Caterpillar and am afraid the soapy water will hurt the caterpillar. Can you please help me with this dilemma?
North Central TX (Zone 8a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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tx_flower_child
Jun 21, 2017 12:29 PM CST
@olgahrisco - Just so you know, you're not being ignored. I'm thinking (slow process) and hoping someone else will jump in here. But in the meantime, maybe you could answer a couple questions.

Any chance you could attach a picture of the bugs? And, not sure it matters, but what type of milkweed are you growing? Also, what general area (state? zone?) do you live in?

I might have found a picture of the bug but I'm not sure plus I'm not wear my glasses.

Edited to add: I read that the old 'spray 'em with soap and water' trip can kill the cats.
[Last edited by tx_flower_child - Jun 21, 2017 3:16 PM (+)]
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Name: Ronnie (Veronica)
Southeastern PA (Zone 6b)
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luvsgrtdanes
Jun 21, 2017 8:20 PM CST
@olgahrisco It sounds like you have Milkweed bugs. Here is a little info on them.
https://www.gardeningknowhow.c...

Like @tx_flower_child mentioned, you all may want to post your questions here The thread "Growing Milkweeds" in Gardening for Butterflies, Birds and Bees forum I think more members will see the questions and can offer help Thumbs up
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North Central TX (Zone 8a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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tx_flower_child
Jun 21, 2017 9:29 PM CST
Thank you @luvsgrtdanes. I'm back with information from one of our members who is an expert in the field. He's even been quoted in one of the articles I read while googling. (At least I'm impressed.) Here's his exact words with several sidebars by me:

"If a single Cat is present and there are thousands and thousands of aphids - I would likely just move the Cat. If there are several cats and/or eggs present, I would not even blast the aphids with a stream of water. Nor use soapy water nor anything else. Then I squish them. A pain - but if you keep up with squishing, you can get them under control - more or less. At least to the point that they will not destroy the plant. And they will destroy a plant if there are thousands and you do nothing.

I have never seen any evidence that Insecticidal Soap has a residual effect. Neem oil is up for grabs.

Note that I usually do not apply anything at all. Only in BAD cases. But I am pragmatic. ~ 6 weeks ago I had > 130 cats disappear in 24 hours. Conclusion was birds. Earlier I had over 30 eggs dropped by a remigrant April 9 disapper over night.

With stuff like that "natural" I have no problem trashing a few tens of thousands of aphids with insecticidal soap.

Not sure about one single picture - I am sure they are out there. But these are the "bugs" that are problematical.

Aphids
Milkweed bug - small
Milkweed bug - large
Milkweed beetle (We seem to not have these here)
[Sidebar: he's in Missouri]

Essentially, there may be other "bugs" present, but most cause little or no damage.

With one exception. Earwigs.
[Sidebar: the mere mention of 'earwigs' gives me the willies.] They can cause a lot of damage by eating the top portions of stems off. This can severely damage the plant so bad that it will not recover in the season.

Another major problem I have encountered is the animal - vole. A MW plant suddenly starts turning brown and/or dieing.


So there you have it. I did look at some bug pictures online but none matched your description. But I wasn't wearing my glasses.

Feel free to ask more questions and let us know how things go.
Name: Bea Kimball
Little Rock, Arkansas; (Zone 7b)
Hellebores Hummingbirder Butterflies Irises Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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Buzzbea424
Jun 22, 2017 8:17 AM CST
In response to @tx_flower_child/ I have a lot more asclepias tuberosa now than I did at my last home, grown both from roots or from seed.

I also have coreopsis, echinaceas, rudbeckias, lantanas, and zinnias. At times I've had daylilies and liatris. This year I've added red and blue penstemons, a few marigolds and sages.

I try to garden organically and tend to see a variety of pollinators, but no monarchs.

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