We have once again reached that time of year when the female monarch butterfly begins to lay her eggs on the native milkweed plants all across Ohio. The monarch population has continued to decline since last year and the only way we can help save this beautiful species is with YOUR help. As you mow your lawns or weed in your gardens this summer and early fall, remember to leave the milkweed for the monarchs!
A message from the Ohio Division of Wildlife:
The iconic monarch butterfly, which has long been a welcome sight in backyard gardens across Ohio, faces many threats. In Ohio, one way we can ensure future generations of monarch butterflies continue to visit flower gardens throughout our state is by protecting native milkweed plants.
Every year in the fall, monarch butterflies across the eastern U.S. and Canada begin a 3,000-mile-long journey down to wintering grounds in Mexico. In the spring, these same butterflies head back north, and delight us with their presence once again. However, this amazing journey would not be possible without milkweed, a group of plants critical to the survival of the monarch butterfly. As butterflies, monarchs can feed on the nectar of a number of different flowering plants, but as caterpillars, monarchs are entirely dependent on the availability of milkweed.
Monarch caterpillars hatch from eggs laid on milkweed plants and feed on the leaves of the plant as they grow. If these plants are mowed, removed, or sprayed with pesticides or herbicides, the caterpillars will not survive. Protecting these plants, especially during the egg-laying period from July through September, helps both monarch butterflies and caterpillars continue their life cycle and ultimately results in more monarch butterflies that can complete their journey to Mexico and back.
In the past, milkweed was viewed as a toxic weed. Today, we know that milkweed is a very important group of native plants that helps support many species of wildlife, including monarch butterflies. Learn more about ways you can help ensure these beautiful butterflies are around for generations to come by visiting the Monarch Joint Venture.
For more information about monarchs on our website, search the tag “monarchs” on the homepage. You can also visit these helpful links for more information- Milkweed & Monarchs and Milkweed & Monarchs Misconceptions.
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