Thursday, July 17, 2008

Being noxious on purpose - milkweed for butterflies

my butterfly garden

The first summer job I had was working the weekend shift of a Mr. Donut just on the outside of Sarnia's Chemical Valley. During the week, I was employed with three other students to take care of the Howard Watson Trail. The trail was once a railway corridor and so we were employed by Lambton Wildlife to keep the trail free of weeds to appease the homeowners who lived beside this precious ribbon of nature.

Removing the trail's ragweed didn't bother me. What did cause me angst was that we were obligued to remove any milkweed we found as milkweed is considered a noxious weed in Ontario as its thought to be poisonous to livestock. I hated pulling milkweed because its the monarch catepillar's sole food source. I still feel guilty about this.

So yesterday, after following the links from this page on Graffiti For Butterflies (via Kottke), I bought this Monarch Station Seed Kit from Monarch Watch. I don't know whether its too late to plant milkweed this year, butI'm sure I'll be able to find out with all the information and discussion space made available by this charitable group. The site's navigation is a little dodgy but in spite of this, I think their web presence is a model for environmental groups who are seeking ways to engage the public in their cause.


jodi said...

Peter and I tried, a couple of years in a row, to plant butterfly milkweed from seeds that he gathered off the plants in the native garden outside your offices. We couldn't get them to germinate for us (if it's such a noxious weed then surely it should seed easily?). We've decided to give up and try bulbs, from here:

I think at this point it's best to wait and plant your seeds after labour day, or whenever you see the seed pods dropping off the ones in the campus garden.

Anonymous said...

I always make a point of grabbing milk weed pods in the fall. I bag em and hang em in the shed for the winter and disperse them in spring. Places like the riverfront,parks,fields and abandoned corridors. When I revisit some of these places I can clearly see that my efforts have panned out. Been doing this now for three years.

Mita said...

It does my heart good knowing that there are others trying to spread butterfly love via milkweed.

Monarch Watch does have a page dedicated to the propagation of milkweed:

I'm thinking its too late for planting this season due to the heat but will try both seed and pod dispersal methods next year.