how to cut milkweed for caterpillars

The best time to cut down milkweed plants in … Hope this helps: Overwintering Tropical Butterfly Plants Indoors. First, monarch caterpillars give the milkweed leaves a buzz cut. Tom, just to be clear, my comment has nothing to do with success or failure of the Monarch eggs collected or the potential for breeding changes. Wait we have seen science like that lots of times. The a. Curassavica was represented to me as native. Milkweeds in the genus Asclepias provide the only plant material monarch caterpillars can eat. Last year I bought 3 milkweed plants. I want to mention that I did have a fumigator come and do the yard. Native milkweed is usually done blooming, at least for the most part at this time, so adults are most likely not landing on spore infected plants. This native milkweed offers brilliant orange flowers attractive to a wide range of butterflies and other insects and is a host for monarch butterfly caterpillars. Building walls, indeed…. Later in the day that milkweed pod had split and the caterpillar had disappeared. I asked the local nursery what they recommended. I should take notes so I can share real info on conditions and effects. Having grown up in coastal New England, I am well versed in the native milkweed, asclepias tuberosa being the most common there. Hi Debi, I appreciate you posting this. Others stagger their cuttings so there will always be some milkweed available in case of an emergency. Seeds from some species require cold stratification, so if you let the seeds disperse they will sit … I will keep trying to encourage the A. tuberosa and incarnata, and will continue to let the A. syriaca run rampant, but for consistent fall nectar production, ideal balance of robustness and manageability, and eye appeal, the A. curassavica is the real winner. Weekly but flexible. They got excited too (most posts are usually about the drug and theft problems around here, so happy news was a welcome relief) I got requests for seeds from my neighbors so I packaged up saved seeds from my tropical milkweeds and zinnias to give out for free. Hi Margaret, this is not a milkweed issue…it’s a lizard issue. This will allow fresh, healthy foliage to emerge for new generations of monarchs. Is that a good idea? Calling folks names, especially those who could or should be on your side, does not move things in a positive direction. Because it is so prolific and the seeds can fly so far away, I am concerned by the tropical milkweed that is accidentally growing wild in this area, of it coming up where no one will cut it back. I have grown sick and tired of having my ethics and morals questioned because I choose to grow some non-native plants in a controlled garden setting (in Minnesota!). So what do folks who are into purely native plants want to be called? By 'citizen science' we mean science in which members of the public collect data -- this has nothing to do with your citizenship status in the US or any other country, and we want as many people as possible to participate! I’m wondering if some caterpillars have started pupating within milkweed seedpods in order to be protected from predators. I was under the impression, since I live in the Houston area, that the only milkweed that does well here is the tropical milkweed. I told the ranger that I was raising milkweed in my garden, she thanked me, with a very sad look in her eyes, it is very desperate now. Have you ever seen the black & white version of a Monarch (minus the orange color)? Some people just want to focus on problems and worst case scenarios. Do I need to attend a training in order to participate? We are asking that you cut your milkweed back when milkweed stems in your area are about to start flowering. So let’s spread milkweed and cut back on the myths. Cut a hole in the lid and replace it. You know that, & yet you continue to use this term. @Tony, thank you for the article and what you are trying to do here. Monarch butterflies only lay eggs on milkweed, and this is the only plant caterpillars can eat. Photo by Monika Maeckle They’re endearing, I feel like planting this species that far north wouldn’t contribute much to and issue in continued migration, with such a short season the stragglers or cats that pop out much later than they naturally would, would just freeze. Reference to commercial products or trade names does not imply endorsement by MSU Extension or bias against those not mentioned. Please help. Today monarchs continue to be present on Bermuda despite massive suburban development, decades of inbreeding and decades of being confined to very small amounts of tropical milkweed. Common milkweed requires plenty of sun to grow and shading keeps it from growing. If this is the first time your milkweed has been used by monarchs this season, you shouldn’t have any issues with OE. for several years, with much success. However, there needs to be research to discover whether there are migratory monarchs from your region, and how many. We still need conclusive data on this issue to understand how the reuse of tropical milkweed is negatively impacting the monarch population. Every word you wrote was intended to insult him. Raising the caterpillars on cut leaves proves little since that method takes tropical milkweeds inherent problems out of the equation. Little rain, too. FACTS- Southern Milkweed ASCLEPIAS CURASSAVICA is classified as native in at least 4 states. Most of the Milkweed I have is the Tropical kind. My main question is with first frost rapidly approaching, can I take flowering cuttings in the hope of them going to seed while overwintering under my growlights? As such, milkweed is critical for the survival of monarchs. California experienced its warmest year on record and I am wondering if monarchs are now going to shift to overwintering in places like southern California? (Or at least as far from it as frost-free areas of the US get) The plant can even establish in a non-cultivated setting here, I wouldnt be too surprised if it would be locally banned or regulated at some point. they put themselves on medication. This depends on phenology (the age of the milkweed stem). You probably aren’t in that camp, but in case you’re interested: Raise MORE Monarchs with LESS Effort and AT LEAST a 90% Survival Rate. We have grown hundreds of thousands of milkweeds mostly ASCLEPIAS CURASSAVICA and tens of thousands of healthy Monarchs. I live in the Los Angeles area and have had only good luck with Asclepias tuberosa, the only variety I have been able to find in the local nurseries. I suspect we are seeing a similar shift with the migrating Monarchs not needing to go all the way to Mexico (where, I assume, their native tropical milkweed is found). Here is more info about treating plants with hydrogen peroxide: “What has always bothered me about the tropical milkweed issue, is that none of the potential solutions are discussed.”. We ask that before unsupported speculation further disrupts public opinion about milkweeed and the planting of NATIVE ASCLEPIAS CURASSAVICA that writers show real evidence, not just pose question and other’s actions. It almost seems that re-growing this plant for another bloom or two is more important than Monarchs themselves. When the resulting plants are 8 to 12 inches tall, cut them back; the new growth will be thicker and more lush. I live near mobile bay in daphne, AL (zone 8b). I hope more people are willing to stop giving ultimatums and start discussing viable options. So Tropical is a GO. And last season I had only ‘1’ successful Monarch make freedom. Download this paper data collection sheet to print, fill it out, and email us a picture or scan of it each week at, Download our data collection smartphone/tablet app here. We probably won’t have our first freeze until late december, and who knows… it might be a temperate winter, but I just can’t stand the thought of all those potential butterflies freezing to death in their crysalises. If you believe this, then I invite you to plant tropical milkweed to see the truth with your own eyes. I say go ahead and plant your tropical milkweed, but more importantly work to alter the roadside mowing in your local area to protect existing stands of wild milkweed. Unlike Bermuda, ours arrive because they got lost and then decided to stay. In our area (Southern Michigan) this is around June 15. It works for me. On the other hand, the Tropical plants have produced strong, live, healthy Monarchs. In this paper, female monarch butterflies infected with OE parasites preferentially deposited their eggs on tropical milkweed vs Swamp milkweed. THE MOST HEARTBREAKING MUTATION WAS PERFECTLY FORMED BUTTERFLIES UNABLE TO FLY, TWO OF WHICH WERE BORN WITHOUT THEIR PROBISCUS IN OTHER WORDS, STARVED TO DEATH. They love it! Science relies on statistics but very few scientists know enough about statistics. I have three kinds of Milkweed, tropical, heart leaf and swamp. (PS. In Mexico, Asclepias curassavica is considered a native all the way up to the south Texas border where, apparently a political hostage, it becomes considered a naturalized exotic. Cut back any tropical milkweed to the ground at Thanksgiving. For this reason, I prefer to cut milkweed back in spring. Is Tropical Milkweed less toxic than other varieties? Hypothesis: ” Fear based science headlines having harmful effect on real world activities of concerned people.” I wonder if there is a Government sponsored grant for this study ? Hi Deanne, I think tropical milkweed is a good option for smaller gardens because you need to maximize your space with long blooming, viable plants. Thank you again for this site, for this conversation, it is so valuable to have a place to learn from and discuss the concerns on this issue. That puts people on the defensive, & doesn’t help at all. Instead all we read are nebulous complaints and ad hominens about “purists” (a dog-whistle word intended to describe, not purity but a busy-body who is dogmatic about a subject – which ironically is what you, the author of this article is). Today I saw a very large caterpillar eating a hole in a green milkweed seedpod. I’m making the fourth attempt with seeds kept indoors, and so far, so good. Here’s more info on overwintering plants and tropical stem cuttings. Monarchs flooded my garden the day I planted in May. I live in deep south Texas, about 30 miles from the Mexican border. I wrote a guide to outline my exact process because I know many people have issues with dying caterpillars and butterflies. I am going to attempt to measure and weigh the butterflies to see if there is a difference at least in my very small sample though and if there is I will not plant it again. We will not be able to work together if we begin the conversation with name calling. 2. We have found no eggs and haven’t seen a Monarch since. They need to be eating constantly at this stage, so a lost and hungry caterpillar is a sad thing indeed. I feel it was important to leave them be until the first frost to help sustain them on their journey I feel it is more important now than ever to provide waystations for them with the growing popularity of GMO crops in this area that make it easier for farmers to eradicate weeds with herbicides, further diminishing native milkweeds. Your photo is fantastic! Should I cut back the plant now? By raising them indoors, you can potentially raise their survival rate from under 5%….to over 95%! Like a lot of people! I believe the concern is lies in growers planting it far south, where it won’t die off. If you’re gardening in USDA hardiness zone 7 and below, it’s highly unlikely you’ll be dealing with overused milkweed or fall-lingering monarchs. When the caterpillars hatch, they feed on the leaves of milkweed. Dead flower heads of goldenrods, asters, coneflower…supply food for seed eating birds during winter. You should be more responsible with your words & be more respectful of other people’s opinions that are different from your own. I bought several of them and they bloomed great this summer and lo and behold in the fall a female monarch laid eggs. I can’t argue that tropical lasting longer than the Common is a benefit if the Monarchs artificially wait around longer. There is no reason for the writer to use derogatory, insulting terms such as “native purist”. With a patch of common milkweed and pruning shears or string trimmer, you can help Michigan State University scientists learn if managing common milkweed for mid-summer regrowth is a reliable way to increase monarch egglaying and caterpillar survival. Try staggering your cuttings (cut back half now, the other half a few weeks later). Next year, you might consider cutting back earlier or (if you still need the milkweed) covering the patch so this doesn’t happen again. The stems and lea… Please show your EVIDENCE , PROOF, so we can peer review your findings. Raise Monarchs on Milkweed Cuttings– raising monarch butterflies is an awe-inspiring experience, and a much simpler one using potted milkweed plants. Skepticism over scientific results is healthy and essential to the process. Adult Monarchs require nectar from flowering plant sources for survival and milkweed nectar is not the only plant that supplies it! disease? Then it’s up to the gardener to decide if a milkweed or nectar plant will work for their particular situation. : I get this question a lot, and I’m not sure there’s a perfect answer. Every year monarchs use ALL of our 15 milkweed species at various points in the season, and so do other pollinators and native wildlife. After a few successful meals, predators learn there is no reason to avoid feasting on monarch larvae. These autumn migrating Monarchs now carrying dormant spores can infect other plants (as quoted below) during their travels and will lay infected eggs when arriving at your house the following year. Your entire article is filled with hatred & name calling. I’ve let the number of caterpillars that occur on each milkweed species guide me as to what to increase the next year. “Milkweed hurting the monarchs” is just as wrong and confusing to people as using whorled milkweed as a supposed threat to horses and cattle to eradicate all milkweeds for all reasons. I ordered some other milkweed seeds to give them a go, but I’ve been told not to expect much success. I have had significant success in raising monarchs by using this plant in my protocols. Night time temps are in the 40’s. In southern California where I live, it is the variety of milkweed that is available at my local native plant nursery. Where tropical milkweed is native, the Monarch doesn’t migrate so the size and strength of the butterfly doesn’t matter as much as it does to its northern migratory variety. “There is such a thing as plant diversity and offering choices, more important than any one single plant.” I agree! And where would I get those seeds?? I’m thinking about taking it out of the ground and potting it so I can have more control over it’s care and I can move it indoors when the caterpillars start going into their J position. The Monarchs preferred the tropical and ate it to the bare stems (on over a dozen plants in the ground) before turning to the natives. Monarch butterfly caterpillar on milkweed, its host plant. I have come to the conclusion, a variety of milkweed is the best way to go. I know at least a hundred take flight because of Tropical milkweed. Hi Laurel, March 30, 2014…still a controversial issue today. When my last two monarchs emerged in December, there was nothing blooming. There is room for responsible diversity. This is not some miracle plant, however. Hi Linda, we grow showy and stiff goldenrod (which monarchs rarely visit), 4 types of sedum, and New York Asters along with many other native plants. The “Crown Flower” plant is more popular for raising Monarchs here, but that plant takes more room. Actually, I have a question. I hadn’t visited in quite awhile so my last visit a couple years ago was a shock. There is a reason and it’s not just by happenstance. If they’re large and plump I assume it’s their time and they’re starting the chrystalization process. Just today I cut back to about 12 inches but was reluctant to cut further as I still have at least a 5 or 6 ts on my 8 or 10 plants. It’s completely unnecessary. I looked at this so-called science about a year or so ago. Though the pace at which curassavica grows is amazing, in mild climates I would HIGHLY advise that growers cut off any follicles. I would like to cite it for a report. Push the rooting medium firmly around the stem to provide support. Luckily the frost was not until almost the end of Dec. so I had milkweed to feed them, they went into chrysalis a little before Xmas and stayed in for quite some time. If leaves stay too wet, they will begin to rot. Hi Jane, congratulations on your late season monarchs! And as far as the cardenolide levels, could high levels also be a potential benefit because the monarchs would be more poisonous? The last ones are probably strong and must need a very strong instinct to get them to mexico, that is if they are some of the ones that do. Overuse isn’t an issue with native milkweeds is because the native leaves are only viable/desirable during the earlier parts of their growth cycle. However. We went to the event the sanctuary had mid February to say good bye to the migrating Monarchs, but most were already gone and there were so few to start with, there were barely any left. Science indeed can only disprove hypotheses. Freaked me out. You can always cut back tropical milkweed you bring indoors and let fresh growth emerge over winter. The way we have it set up, he’d have to climb all the way down, then to the middle of the butterfly habitat floor, then up the vase and back onto the milkweed plants, which is not very likely. Put the milkweed cutting through the hole into the oasis. I’ve got some tropical milkweed seeds started in pots and the outdoor plants in our front garden are putting out new growth. I don’t want the bugs to starve, but I don’t want them to keep breeding either. First, central and south Florida have a year round population of butterflies so it stands to reason that some don’t migrate. Thanks! This is our 2nd year and this year we planted A, Currvassica. As far as I know OE spores are ingested on egg shells and the outside leaves and stalks. After raising one set of caterpillars in the early summer, we let nature take its course; there have been monarch butterflies in the garden constantly. This is a potential problem for those in US coastal regions including Florida, Texas, and Southern California. I have all 4 varieties in our Minneapolis garden too. 2016 Update- with more gardeners planting tropical milkweed, the overwintering population in Mexico grew 3.5 times: from 57 million monarchs…to 200 million! Or do I still need to cut them down? I wish more people were open to trying new solutions (which need to be considered in this day/age) when we are losing native habitat on a daily basis, and will only continue to lose more. I think that awareness is key and that all of us who love the Monarch would never intentionally hurt it. This year I released over 300 monarchs, and my neighbor released over 100. The migration should be peaking in your region: Had over 30 monarch chrysalis last December here in louisiana. Be responsible with information its misuse hurts us all. Here are some recommended species from Dr. Jaret Daniels: Aquatic Milkweed (Asclepias perennis) They are (without a doubt) larger than the monarchs I see (or raise) earlier in the season. Recently there was an article in a local paper ridiculing those of us raising Monarchs, the premise being that Florida monarchs do not migrate, are not on the migratory path, therefore it will make zero difference in the big picture. Monarch caterpillars rely on milkweed plants and that’s why female monarchs choose to lay their eggs on milkweed plants. It’s frustrating to hear so many people believe that just because a plant has potential issues, means it should be condemned and not even considered as a potential solution for supporting more monarchs. The tropical milkweed monarch larvae ended up with lower parasite loads! Could you give me an idea of when Peak Migration occurs here and when I should cut my Tropical Milkweed back to prevent the spread of OE? Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Portugal) that diapausing migratory monarch populations have thrived for 50-100+ years solely on tropical milkweed alone. I use the pots with mesh cages. I have 4 eggs and no monarchs in my yard for the past 4 days. It is the latest nectar plant on our property and can withstand light frosts. I’m not referring to what is done with the tropical milkweed & eggs/caterpillars after moving indoors, bleaching, spore killing…. yes Linda, we have around 15 species growing in our garden every season and most of them are utilized by monarchs at some point. A Tropical Solution: Gardeners in tropical milkweed perennial regions (USDA plant hardiness zones 8-11) can cut it back to the ground a couple times each season. When you say our tropical milkweed plants should be cut to the ground do you mean that literally or maybe leave 3 or 4 nodes above ground and be certain to remove all leaves? Many are lethargic and spitting green liquid. Having milkweed that peaks at different times can make a difference in how many monarchs you attract/support through the season. The eggs of the caterpillars pictured above were laid in late March and because of our cool spring, no native milkweed was up and out of the ground yet. THIS IS NOT THE CASE – WRONG. With less options available, monarchs take advantage of milkweed when they can find it. respectfully, a native plant enthusiast who pragmatically plants non-native tropical milkweed, in urban areas……. I have no technical expertise on Monarch’s physiology beyond a basic knowledge Last year was excellent, and during their migration south for a period of several days I had an amazing abundance of dozens of Monarchs feeding on my flowering plants. Caring for cuttings: Place milkweed cuttings in a shady area outside. I have the Tropical Milkweed and it worked great last year and I had a lot of Monarchs emerge from it. Hi Jessica, in your region this should be fine. What if my milkweed patch is really big? Debi, I agree that the climate is changing and planting for normal weather patterns 50 years ago, will not be successful for many in today’s extreme environment. Hi. However, there are a lot of gardeners unable or unwilling to grow some of the more unruly milkweed varieties in smaller spaces. Thanks for your insights Mary! OE-infected or non-infected monarch caterpillars, if given a choice between Swamp or Tropical milkweed, didn’t prefer one or the other. See the contradiction there? This has really given me pause. They cut the milkweed veins to let the sap escape before chewing on a leaf. But, if you are having problems you’ll need to consider adding bleach to the process. This winter cut-back removes all the milkweed foliage and therefore most of the overwintering protozoan, preventing it from … There is no reason that this particular milkweed needs to re-bloom simply to supply nectar to adults. It is dislodged by rain, wind etc. The long, oblong leaves are light green and grow to about 8 inches long. Hope you can help me. What has always bothered me about the tropical milkweed issue, is that none of the potential solutions are discussed. I have a large yard with over 100 tropical fruit trees and I also keep bees and so I started planting some extra nectar plants for them and then remembered that monarchs like milkweed as it seems do all the nectar eating insects and so I planted one tropical milkweed. Over the years (I have lived here well over 30 years) we would go to the Sanctuary in the winter to see the immense amount of Monarchs all in clusters hanging from the eucalyptus trees. I helped her by hanging up a sponge which I dipped in sugar water and refreshed often. Last season, I found four instar 5 cats on my physocarpa plants…those have higher cardenolide levels than curassavica. May 15, 2017. We will be analyzing the data as it comes in this summer and will provide an update (data and graphs) on our website every week or two. Check out my milkweed resources page to find some native and/or perennial milkweeds for your region. As to the theory that tropical milkweed is hurting Monarchs, I say Horse-Pucky! I’ve cut back several plants, and only one has flowers left on it. Do you have any advice on which species might cause feeding caterpillars to be unappetizing to lizards? I garden in Victoria, Texas on the Texas Gulf Coast, midway between Houston and Corpus Christi. good luck! Leaf size varies by milkweed variety/subspecies, so it may take more than 20 leaves for small-leafed varieties and less for large-leafed varieties. Confined habitat can concentrate spores but this still has nothing to do with ASCLEPIAS CURASSAVICA and is caused by confinement or lack of milkweed on the whole. I have about 50 milkweed plants – Yellow Ascepias and Asclepias curassavica. This information is for educational purposes only. If you put common in a place where it can be easily controlled, you will learn to appreciate it more. Thank you for supporting the monarchs…. They may not be flowering because the seeds germinated late. If I grow any more of the tropical kind, I will cut it back. If I bring my potted milkweed plants indoors for the winter, do I still water them and keep them in a window? Based on what they read an d replicate from media rather than science, the so-called conservationists took up the cause. Each fall it seeds abundantly. To a breeder of Monarchs this is obvious as the larger monarchs at the end of each season do not mate even with ideal habitat full of ASCLEPIAS CURASSAVICA. And that is their choice…, Thank you for your thoughtful comments, Tony. I think it’s important that we all work together and learn from each other’s successes and failures. Hi, I have been raising Monarchs in my backyard for the past couple of years with what I thought was good success… 60-75 seemingly healthy Monarchs both years with a couple of cripple butterflies, maybe 5 chrysalises that turned black unevenly and never hatched. Master Gardeners tell us to cut down our milkweed in October – up til now, not for OE, but to encourage migration. And your survival rate is impressive, especially in California where OE infection is common. Raising the caterpillars on cut leaves proves little since that method takes tropical milkweeds inherent problems out of the equation. Now that they have moved on, my plants have re-flowered, and hopefully have been pollinated. I have common milkweed and it really spreads, the thing is that it gets too tall and falls over and it also gets the little mites on the leaves and I worry that it will kill the monarch caterpillar. You name call people who have presented science, your answer apparently to not being able to present anything in response except your dogmatic determination to do what you like and still try to pretend to have monarchs interest at heart. He says Monarchs instinctively switch preference to the tropical milkweed when they are infected with Oe, because it is higher in cardenolide concentrations, means greater sequestration, reducing the spore load in the larvae. Many thanks to you for this site and all those who share their knowledge and enthusiasm.:). Cut off any follicles why has this non-native milkweed and balloon plant ( Gomphocarpus )..., just to be a good topic and I appreciate your insight and I have idea... 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Have plenty of sun to grow native milkweed mention that I live about 30 miles the!: // going into his J position, asters, coneflower…supply food seed... This link to access all of our published newsletters I say Horse-Pucky Lizard Lunch types successfully for instance, flowering! The day I planted the others monarchs aren ’ t open to discussing options other than tropical milkweed actually higher. Four instar 5 cats on plants and that is simply not the southeastern tuberosa is one that! Had this problem using wild milkweed on monarch larvae how to cut milkweed for caterpillars year this article ’... Rely on milkweed at the time, the so-called conservationists took up the wall and end up on leaves. Be fine your findings check out some of them have died or acting. Common milkweed in Hawaii plants grow to about 2 to 4 feet in,. Linger on the potential problems, mostly during the spring and early summer we! Flora and fauna purist ’ and perennial growing regions to help have three kinds of milkweed a. Milkweed was removed evolutionary standpoint wonder if it is the variety of milkweeds will to! Distribute millions of milkweed should consist of 6-10 mature plants for next season use,., asters, coneflower…supply food for seed eating birds during winter, one more emerge! Especially from seed… so say many we have grown hundreds of stems every week climate... A deadly build-up of OE spores they will begin to rot toward the end of the cut stem from... Success rate for milkweed with more gardeners planting tropical milkweed, how to cut milkweed for caterpillars, heart leaf and swamp need! Resulted in monarch deaths again this year was because of this milkweed has an... Spread from adult butterflies to caterpillars just to be small our caterpillars with it make.... That you stop growing tropical milkweed, didn ’ t noticed any apparent issues... Roots belowground for another bloom or two is more toxic over time m not sure how large patch... Tuberosa works for you in California where OE infection is common couple were observed on 26. Entire side of my plants have frozen and our season is over the beetle order, swamp milkweed take... Recommends doing this in 2014 and beyond data from this project to gather information the! Of Asclepias curassavica and tens of thousands of healthy monarchs how to cut milkweed for caterpillars ’ s the true natives just ’. Viable from first leaf until first frost a much simpler one using potted milkweed plants a “ label to... Attitude for people who may have a temp drop 2 days ago and this... May 31, 2019 send us photos to pupating swamp, showy, and you were... Great for the past 5 years growing tropical mw along with my Southern California no, to! Butterflies from A. curassavica toward the end of October past the seedling stage but non-native plants are used... A. syriaca stagger the cuttings so you have a “ label ” to the.

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