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Yard and Garden
Did you know that milkweed, beautiful and fragrant, is the most important plant for the Monarch butterflies? Monarchs can only lay their eggs on milkweed leaves, due to an essential chemical the plant makes.
(This photo is a Monarch butterfly on orange milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa).)
You've probably heard that Monarch butterflies are decreasing in numbers, causing great concern. If not, you may have noticed they are not seen in our area like they used to be!
About Monarch butterflies
Ohio, the northeast U.S. and Canada are the summer breeding grounds of most Monarch butterflies (a separate cohort breeds in California). Adults from the northeast fly some 3,000 miles south in the autumn to overwinter in Mexico, and then fly back to Ohio and environs the following summer to bring about the next generation. It is one of the greatest natural migrations.
The essential Monarch butterfly food
Milkweed needs a sunny spot, is biennial (flowers the second year), reseeds itself, and is easy to keep from spreading. Many local nurseries, birding societies, or native plant specialists will have milkweed varieties suited to our area - for Monarchs and other important pollinators.
You could help bring back the Monarchs to NE Ohio, by planting milkweed in a sunny spot.