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Old 02-25-2013, 06:35 PM   #41
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Originally Posted by ButterflyLinda View Post
I also have Antelope Horns (A. asperula) and Mexican Milkweed (A. curassavica) Some consider Mexican Milkweed a nonnative, but considering it is native in northern Mexico...the way I look at it that's as if it grew native one state over...so it's almost native to Texas.
Mexican milkweed is more commonly known in the US as tropical milkweed (AKA bloodflower, scarlet milkweed). Under either name, it is a problem.

First off, my explanation needs the reader to understand what I mean by "OE."
Monarch Butterfly Milkweed Mania: The Dreaded OE Spore

I got interested in tropical milkweed because of research that showed that monarchs with OE would self medicate by laying their eggs on tropical milkweed versus other milkweeds. Tropical milkweed contains higher levels of cardenolides than many other milkweeds. The high levels of cardenolide interfere with the development of OE, helping the infected caterpillars. Thus, me planting tropical milkweed in my front yard would be helping out sick monarchs. Tropical milkweed was planted.

Fast forward to November 2011 (maybe 2010 but my notes aren't handy). I'm releasing monarch butterflies in central Ohio. There is no way these butterflies are making it to Mexico, IMO. I also still had caterpillars on the tropical milkweed when the first hard frost hit. I'm quickly rethinking growing tropical milkweed.

Some internet research finds that tropical milkweed is messing with the monarch's migration to Mexico. San Antonio has a population that no longer migrates. A non-migrating population has been documented in South Carolina. Both are living off introduced tropical milkweed.

And then there is the research that shows that monarchs that were on their way to Mexico are finding nice stands of tropical milkweed in the midwest (like my front yard) and stopping to lay eggs instead of heading to Mexico. Are their kids making it to Mexico or are they dying on the way because it is already too cold? That research is ongoing.

Lastly, there is the original reason I planted tropical milkweed: OE. Research has shown that the migration is the best way to weed out OE because the infected monarchs die before they can make it to Mexico. You don't want to be planting something that reduces the number of monarchs migrating. On top of that, scientists are concerned that the resident population in San Antonio, which has a high OE infection rate, will breed with monarchs heading north after overwintering in Mexico. If that happens, the number of monarchs returning to Mexico will have another reason to decrease.

I suggest that no one in the US or Canada plant Asclepias curassavica. If you really want it, I suggest you cut the seed pods off so it does not spread and you cut it down when the native milkweeds die for the winter to keep migrating monarchs from laying eggs on it. And, yes, I know that planting it in Canada or the northern reaches of the US will probably have zero effect on the migration but it is much easier to say don't plant it versus trying to figure out how far north is safe. Also, what is normally safe could be a problem with abnormally warm fall temps.

East of the Rockies monarchs are cool because of their long migration. Monarchs in other parts of the world have altered or stopped migrating for various reasons. I'd like ours to keep migrating so please do not introduce a reason for them to stop.
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Old 02-25-2013, 07:00 PM   #42
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Mexican milkweed is more commonly known in the US as tropical milkweed (AKA bloodflower, scarlet milkweed). Under either name, it is a problem...

...Some internet research finds that tropical milkweed is messing with the monarch's migration to Mexico. San Antonio has a population that no longer migrates. A non-migrating population has been documented in South Carolina. Both are living off introduced tropical milkweed.

And then there is the research that shows that monarchs that were on their way to Mexico are finding nice stands of tropical milkweed in the midwest (like my front yard) and stopping to lay eggs instead of heading to Mexico. Are their kids making it to Mexico or are they dying on the way because it is already too cold? That research is ongoing...
Very informative post, KC. Thanks for sharing.

I'm trying to keep all of my natives locally native when at all possible, so A. curassavica isn't even on my radar. I'm one less person to worry about.
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Old 02-25-2013, 08:04 PM   #43
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I wish they wouldn't sell the scarlet milkweed in the big box stores. To them shipping to the great lakes states and selling them as annuals isn't a problem.

They'll display them right next to the butterfly bush and label them as butterfly plants. IN ZONE 5 the butterfly bush dies back and the scarlet milkweed is toast after the first frost just like tomatoes.

You may want to become a citizen scientist and sign up for monthly newsletters, That's where I found out about the population of Florida monarchs who haven't migrated in years. You can find more info at Monarch Watch.

It's amazing watching my common milkweed acting as a hotel for monarchs. They smell the vanilla like scent given off by the blooms in the summer sun and use the stand as a hotel.. Just stopping off long enough to lay eggs or drink and then going over the river into Canada.

I couldn't imagine planting the tropical and turning my yard into a prison.
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Old 02-25-2013, 08:07 PM   #44
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Mexican milkweed is more commonly known in the US as tropical milkweed (AKA bloodflower, scarlet milkweed). Under either name, it is a problem.
KC, loved reading this post of yours. Thanks so much for sharing this info with us. Truly, understanding the science behind making wise decisions regarding our choices that impact local ecology is so very important.
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Old 02-25-2013, 08:12 PM   #45
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Very informative post, KC. Thanks for sharing.
My thoughts exactly!
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Old 02-26-2013, 12:37 AM   #46
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You may want to become a citizen scientist and sign up for monthly newsletters, That's where I found out about the population of Florida monarchs who haven't migrated in years. You can find more info at Monarch Watch.
I started tagging monarchs for Monarch Watch back in '97 or '98. I have not done it for some time now. I let my kids release the monarchs and they have never been interested in doing the tagging.

The Florida monarch population is a good example of tropical milkweed not stopping OE. Tropical milkweed has taken over Florida but the studies I've seen show OE getting worse, with over 90% of resident monarchs infected these days. Less than 8% of migrating monarchs are infected.

Which newsletters do you mean?
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Old 02-26-2013, 11:52 AM   #47
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Originally Posted by KC Clark View Post
I started tagging monarchs for Monarch Watch back in '97 or '98. I have not done it for some time now. I let my kids release the monarchs and they have never been interested in doing the tagging.

The Florida monarch population is a good example of tropical milkweed not stopping OE. Tropical milkweed has taken over Florida but the studies I've seen show OE getting worse, with over 90% of resident monarchs infected these days. Less than 8% of migrating monarchs are infected.

Which newsletters do you mean?
The newsletter was sent to my e-mail with links to record your sightings and register for tags...I was amazed by the little pin sized tracking devices that they use.

As far as I know there's only one Monarch Watch.
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Old 02-26-2013, 12:47 PM   #48
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I'm still on the email list for Monarch Watch. I used to get on their forums too but my account got deleted when I did not post for a long time. I still let Chip know, on their Facebook page, when we have a difference of opinion.
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Old 02-26-2013, 04:13 PM   #49
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Well, Well. I'll have to take a look at the forum and FB page. Thanks for that info
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Old 02-27-2013, 10:34 PM   #50
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I wonder where the info on the resident Monarch population in San Antonio came from. I lived in San Antonio for most of my life and didn't see any evidence of a year-round Monarch population. Being interested in butterflies for a long time, and since I was frequently out in parks, large gardens and natural areas, why didn't I see "resident" Monarchs outside of the normal migration periods? Since 1989, I've lived one county over from Bexar Co. (San Antonio's county) in Medina Co. And I have seen no evidence of a resident Monarch population here either. We see Monarchs mostly from late February to May in this area, then from late August to November during the fall migration. They migrate through, sometimes stopping for a while to nectar and lay eggs. The caterpillars are only here during those migration periods, from what I've seen. Some springs I don't see any Monarch caterpillars at all. From what I read somewhere, tests on Asclepias asperula (native to Texas) show it to be very high in cardenolides compared to other milkweeds that were listed in the info I saw, including Asclepias curassavica. Granted, most species of milkweeds were omitted from the info I saw, so I don't know about cardenolides in a lot of milkweed species. Personally, I don't see any problem with growing A. curassavica...the butterflies need milkweeds and it's native to northern Mexico, which is our close neighbor, not very far away. It almost never spreads to the wild in my region. I also grow Asclepias texana and Asclepias asperula. I've given away as many seeds for both those last two species as I can spare. I propagate A. texana and when I can, and share plants with the San Antonio Native Plant Society (including periodic San Antonio events where they sell native plants), as well as as some individuals in Texas. Unfortunately, very few people in Texas plant native Texas milkweeds and as more and more development occurs, they're seen a bit less in the wild every year. The drought in my part of Texas has been continuing, with only occasional periods of relief seen since 2006. I've watched many of the wild milkweeds just die in the last five years because of drought.


Quote:
Originally Posted by KC Clark View Post
Mexican milkweed is more commonly known in the US as tropical milkweed (AKA bloodflower, scarlet milkweed). Under either name, it is a problem.

First off, my explanation needs the reader to understand what I mean by "OE."
Monarch Butterfly Milkweed Mania: The Dreaded OE Spore

I got interested in tropical milkweed because of research that showed that monarchs with OE would self medicate by laying their eggs on tropical milkweed versus other milkweeds. Tropical milkweed contains higher levels of cardenolides than many other milkweeds. The high levels of cardenolide interfere with the development of OE, helping the infected caterpillars. Thus, me planting tropical milkweed in my front yard would be helping out sick monarchs. Tropical milkweed was planted.

Fast forward to November 2011 (maybe 2010 but my notes aren't handy). I'm releasing monarch butterflies in central Ohio. There is no way these butterflies are making it to Mexico, IMO. I also still had caterpillars on the tropical milkweed when the first hard frost hit. I'm quickly rethinking growing tropical milkweed.

Some internet research finds that tropical milkweed is messing with the monarch's migration to Mexico. San Antonio has a population that no longer migrates. A non-migrating population has been documented in South Carolina. Both are living off introduced tropical milkweed.

And then there is the research that shows that monarchs that were on their way to Mexico are finding nice stands of tropical milkweed in the midwest (like my front yard) and stopping to lay eggs instead of heading to Mexico. Are their kids making it to Mexico or are they dying on the way because it is already too cold? That research is ongoing.

Lastly, there is the original reason I planted tropical milkweed: OE. Research has shown that the migration is the best way to weed out OE because the infected monarchs die before they can make it to Mexico. You don't want to be planting something that reduces the number of monarchs migrating. On top of that, scientists are concerned that the resident population in San Antonio, which has a high OE infection rate, will breed with monarchs heading north after overwintering in Mexico. If that happens, the number of monarchs returning to Mexico will have another reason to decrease.

I suggest that no one in the US or Canada plant Asclepias curassavica. If you really want it, I suggest you cut the seed pods off so it does not spread and you cut it down when the native milkweeds die for the winter to keep migrating monarchs from laying eggs on it. And, yes, I know that planting it in Canada or the northern reaches of the US will probably have zero effect on the migration but it is much easier to say don't plant it versus trying to figure out how far north is safe. Also, what is normally safe could be a problem with abnormally warm fall temps.

East of the Rockies monarchs are cool because of their long migration. Monarchs in other parts of the world have altered or stopped migrating for various reasons. I'd like ours to keep migrating so please do not introduce a reason for them to stop.
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