Most of us know about Monarchs
and Milkweed. Did you know that other
use it too?
This reddish butterfly is called a
Butterfly. She is nectaring on Asclepias curassavica Milkweed. Her
proboscis is sticking into the flower. It's like a long straw that she
uncurls to sip nectar from the flower. When
butterflies drink flower nectar, we call the flowering plants they
use Nectar Plants.
Butterflies also lay eggs
on; Asclepias curassavica, so we call it their
This Monarch butterfly is laying an egg beneath the Milkweed leaf.
Here is a butterfly egg on top of a Milkweed leaf. The egg is the tiny
white dot to the left of the flowers.
Asclepias, often called Scarlet Milkweed even though there is also a
yellow flowered variety, is a great butterfly garden plant. It grows a couple of
feet tall and makes an attractive flower. Since it's both a
, it's all you need to start your butterfly garden and attract two of
our largest butterflies, the Monarch
pollinate the Milkweed flowers,
you'll see seed pods start to form. This small seed pod still has
the wilted flower attached to the end of the pod.
Plants are a food source for many little bugs
. You might find little
tiny bugs like these aphids slurping on your Milkweed which will, in
turn, attract other bugs
that eat aphids
. It can turn into quite a
reality show in miniature with daily episodes in your yard, or in a
flower pot on your patio. Bring a magnifying glass; the aphids are quite
Once the seeds are ripe, the pod splits open lengthwise. Milkweed seeds
have a plume of fine silken threads that help float them on the breeze
to disperse them over a wide area. Kids, and this grownup, enjoy blowing
them like a dandelion puffball
and watching the sunlight
glint off the threads as they hover in the air.
Hyalymenus bugs on an open Milkweed seedpod.
Remember that butterfly egg? Those hatch into wild looking
that is eating the seed pod.
When you plant a butterfly garden, you plant an
ecosystem, and your garden turns into a mini-conservation area for all
sorts of neat critters
I've found ladybugs
clavatus larva, Hyalymenus bugs, Milkweed Beetles
, and of course,
on my Asclepias Milkweeds. Don't let that deter
you; the bugs have to live somewhere and eat something. If you don't
provide Milkweed most of them, butterflies
excluded, will simply find
some other plant to call home.
is very attractive to
. Don't worry, aphids are very attractive to
eventually the lady bugs will find the aphids on your Milkweed Plants
and eat them up.
These yellow pointy ovals on my Milkweed leaf are Ladybug Eggs.
I see a lot of Lacewing
eggs and larva while I'm out looking at my
plants, but I rarely see Lacewings themselves. They fly, so it's easy
for them to get away when I get too close. This one was trapped, and
pretty nearly dead. It visited my Milkweed flower and fell prey to this
spider. See the spider legs holding it from beneath the flower?
It's funny; I have this orchid that at a glance looks a lot like Asclepias curassavica Milkweed.
I've seen both Monarch
try to nectar on it, so
they must be attracted to the colors or appearance, because I really
doubt that it smells the same to them.