In recent years milkweed has received much attention as habitat for dwindling populations of monarch butterflies. Most of the more than 100 species in the Americas are tropical, but one species in particular is a staple of monarchs in the North: Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca).
My backyard milkweed project started in 2015 with a few transplants from a nonproductive, roadside location. Establishment was slow, but they’re now flourishing. Vegetative reproduction by root sprouts has created a colony of about 30 stems and the large, fragrant flower clusters are insect magnets (according to the US Forest Service, over 450 insects are known to feed on some part of the plant, including flower nectar). I focused on the Lepidoptera, attempting to document the variety of butterflies and moths that benefit from flowering milkweed. Multiple benefits from a single management action is a best-case scenario. The value added from a colony of milkweed is much greater than monarch habitat.
I’ve observed 9 or 10 species of butterflies and moths thus far, as well as countless bees, flies and other insects. This is a sample!
Photos by NB Hunter (early July, 2018). © All rights reserved.
Sent from my iPhone
Thanks! I take too many “time outs” when working around the house – this is one of them. 🙂
I have yet to figure out what our local milkweed is here in the new neighborhood. I’m hoping to start some local plants to replace the invasive species, but so far I have yet to find anything I recognize as milkweed. We do get quite a few butterflies and bees on the blackberry blossoms. I may have even spotted a White Admiral, but it was moving too fast and erratically to be sure. Your images of these delightful creatures are wonderful (in every sense of the word).
Wow! So many beautiful butterflies came to your milkweed! I also planted milkweed (asclepias tuberosa) around our backyard. It is doing very well and Monarch, Cabbage White, bees, and maybe other butterflies as well have been coming. Pictures on my blog.
What a marvellous project. Your photographs show the worth of your ‘time out’ for they too are wonderful.
Very interesting facts and some fantastic shots of flying butterflies!!
Nice butterfly pics. Milkweed is such a bizarre looking plant, it almost looks alien or something.
The blossoms must have an alluring nectar to pull in all those insects and butterflies 🙂