The Monarch butterfly is considered to be one of the most exquisite creatures, easily recognized for its orange and black painted wings. This royal butterfly inspires admiration from people all around the world. Monarch populations have been on a long term decline for many years. One of the ways to ensure the survival of Monarch butterflies is to make sure they have access to milkweed.
Monarchs depend on milkweed to complete their life cycle. As host for the Monarch’s eggs, the milkweed leaves must be consumed by the emerging caterpillars in order to reach the next stage of growth. They can then start the process of metamorphosis and transform into chrysalises. After the magnificent Monarch emerges, it flies off to feed on flowers and bestow its beauty on the outside world.
Collecting and distributing milkweed seeds from your own native region will increase the Monarch’s habitat. Milkweed pods are ripe for picking in early fall, when the pod has split. A fun and useful way to remove the seeds from the silky floss is to place the contents of the milkweed pod in a sealed container. Shake the container until the seeds fall to the bottom and the floss forms a ball on top.
For Milkweed Balm, oil is derived from wild collected milkweed pods. Wild collections preserve native milkweed colonies and help fuel the monarch migration. Having a loosely connected path of milkweed from Mexico to Canada or Washington State to California, helps protect the breeding ground of migrating monarchs.
Planting milkweed seeds will support Monarch populations and entice them into your garden. You will relish in their beauty, while sustaining their habitat.