Sunday, June 28, 2015

ON MILKWEED AND MONARCHS

We finally have milkweed growing in the park!

FOSS volunteers have recently been throwing seeds and planting seedlings in the small meadow on the north side of the path where the "Butterflies of Sam Smith Park" interpretive sign is located.  There are now almost twenty plants growing in and next to the meadow.  Eventually, it is hoped that this area will become a butterfly/pollinator meadow filled with native plants and wildflowers that the insects need to thrive.


The milkweed is especially important to Monarch Butterflies which are found in the park, especially in late summer/early fall where they mass on some of the park's trees before starting their migration journey across the lake.  (See previous FOSS post on this.)  Monarchs cannot survive without milkweed; their caterpillars only eat milkweed and monarch butterflies need milkweed to lay their eggs. With shifting land management practices, we have lost much milkweed from the landscape and,
as a consequence, seen a dramatic decline of this species.

Please feel free to plant milkweed in this spot.  There are many websites that show how to collect seeds and germinate them in to seedlings.  Here is just one.  Seedlings can also be purchased from nurseries specializing in native plants.  We have found that using seedlings is the best practice.
By the way, to allay any concerns, Ontario has now removed milkweed from the "noxious weed list".
Other resources ....
Toronto Star article "Plant milkweed and save the Monarchs"
David Suzuki Foundation

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