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Old 02-27-2013, 11:50 PM   #51
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Originally Posted by ButterflyLinda View Post
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.
Just happens to be an article about it posted today.

To Plant or Not to Plant Tropical Milkweed: Not a Simple Question | Butterfly Beat | a mySA.com blog
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Old 02-28-2013, 12:51 AM   #52
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More articles about San Antonio.

Butterfly FAQ: Pros and Cons of Tropical Milkweed and What to do with a Winter Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar or Chrysalis | Butterfly Beat | a mySA.com blog

I suggest reading everything below the last picture. Dr. Lincoln Brower is da man when it comes to monarchs. He knows more than anybody else.




UPDATE: Winter Monarch Butterflies are Reproducing at the Museum Reach Milkweed Patch on the San Antonio River Walk | texasbutterflyranch

If you read through the comments, you will see that Dr. Brower weighs in near the end.



Lastly, San Antonio and monarchs made all the newsfeeds in November when a monarch got flown from NY to San Antonio.

Southwest Airlines offers butterfly a lift - Times Union

FYI: Maraleen does grow tropical milkweed in her yard.
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Old 02-28-2013, 08:25 AM   #53
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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..
I am so bothered by this as well. Seeing tropical milkweed and butterfly bush is enough to make me start twitching!


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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 find the smell of common milkweed blossoms to be intoxicating. I love your descriptions of syriaca! Very descriptive!
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Old 02-28-2013, 08:29 AM   #54
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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.

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.
KC Clark--I have been away from WG for some time, so I am very glad to meet you! I am what you would call a monarch-aholic myself. It sounds like you and I have a lot in common and share many of the same beliefs! I am a volunteer for the Monarch Teacher Network and I used to argue with many of the individuals in the group about providing tropical milkweed seeds. They no longer do and only give out natives now, thank goodness.

But many in the group still think it's okay to plant tropical, mainly because the monarchs seem to prefer it. (this is the explanation I get) In my yard the monarchs take turns with different varieties as their favorites. Last year it was common, the year before it was exaltata.

I will have to come back on WG and catch up on your posts!

Nice to meet you!

Mary
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Old 03-01-2013, 02:00 PM   #55
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Mama Monarchs know what milkweeds are good for their offspring and A curassavica, A. texana and A. asperula are the ones favored here. I don't believe it's harmful at all. It seems unlikely they lure any Monarchs to avoid migration. BTW, I checked my February 27 issue of the San Antonio Express-News and that article mentioned wasn't in it. Apparently, they only put it on the website. Haven't heard anything about this on the S.A. TV news I watch every day either. Strange! Anyway, I doubt that San Antonio will have year-round Monarchs. I go into the city about 4 times a week and haven't seen a single Monarch anywhere I've gone there so far this year. Maybe later when migration starts ramping up. Sounds like a temporary anomaly in just in a little microclimate there near the newly revamped Mission Reach area that missed the many winter freezes that we had here at my place. South Florida can have year-round resident Monarchs because they have a much different climate than we do here. The members of the S.A. chapter of Native Plant Society of Texas (of which I am a member) are quite inclusive in their attitudes toward people who grow plants not native to Texas. We welcome all and don't mind if people grow some plants that aren't native to Texas or the U.S. Our membership numbers would quickly plummet if we change that. Many members of the organization love growing plants from the northern areas of Mexico!

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Originally Posted by bridget1964 View Post
KC Clark--I have been away from WG for some time, so I am very glad to meet you! I am what you would call a monarch-aholic myself. It sounds like you and I have a lot in common and share many of the same beliefs! I am a volunteer for the Monarch Teacher Network and I used to argue with many of the individuals in the group about providing tropical milkweed seeds. They no longer do and only give out natives now, thank goodness.

But many in the group still think it's okay to plant tropical, mainly because the monarchs seem to prefer it. (this is the explanation I get) In my yard the monarchs take turns with different varieties as their favorites. Last year it was common, the year before it was exaltata.

I will have to come back on WG and catch up on your posts!

Nice to meet you!

Mary
aka: Bridget
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Old 03-04-2013, 12:30 PM   #56
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Took me a while finding something I typed years ago but… I found it and I think it’s relevant, “A native plant can be a perennial or an annual or it can be herbaceous or deciduous or evergreen or... or.... or... one thing we frequently overlook is that the one common denominator binding them all together collectively as "native plants" is that they are documented as plants having been "indigenous" to a particular area prior to European settlement here in the US and very similar definitions are used by other countries although many of them go back farther in the time line than Americans do. No matter how long a plant like Dame's Rocket has been growing in the field of our childhood, alongside the road we travel to and from work, or in our gardens.... they will never be native plants here on the continent of NA no matter how beautiful and easy to grow they are….one major point's been lost, Native plants are a distinct group because they are the only group of plants that have a positive impact on their local ecosystem no matter where that ecosystem is located. Not negative, not neutral, but a positive impact. No other group of plants can make that claim. It's a much more meaningful claim than the "because I like them", "because the client wants them", "because they are pretty", "because they are commercially available", or "because they grow well in my garden" rationale given so frequently for wildflower as well as other non-native and naturalized species.”
--
ButterflyLinda> “The members of the S.A. chapter of Native Plant Society of Texas (of which I am a member) are quite inclusive in their attitudes toward people who grow plants not native to Texas. We welcome all and don't mind if people grow some plants that aren't native to Texas or the U.S. Our membership numbers would quickly plummet if we change that. Many members of the organization love growing plants from the northern areas of Mexico!” I’m really at a loss and don’t quite know what to think about that other than…. maybe a little worried for the long term survival of your group? On a positive note…. your native plant chapter is obviously still viable…. while mine isn’t…. but on the other hand…. they're embracing those who love growing exotics for the sole purpose of avoiding a dip in membership… which proved a slippery slope for our chapter. Our local native plant chapter bit the dust within several years of a man getting voted in as president who vowed to increase visibility in the community with the goal of increasing membership so we'd have more $$$. He invited members from the horticulture community to speak…. they spoke about native cultivars commercially available. His efforts attracted a few new people who didn’t quite make the connection that cultivars…. weren’t exactly “native” and neither were plants like Dame’s Rocket. This new direction did elevate our membership numbers but then…. we started losing some of our “brain trust” members…. the people who were the worker bees of the chapter. They were replaced with “friends” of new members who liked planting more natives so…. no decline in membership but a noticeable decline in those willing to help with the administration of the chapter. Field trips to natural areas and to native plant nurseries decreased when he started scheduling tours where natives and “cultivars” had been “tastefully” incorporated into home landscapes to appeal to newer members. New blood wasn’t as “hands on” as old blood and they weren’t interested in plant rescues so those weren’t pursued any longer. Then there was a vote on whether to include cuttings and divisions of cultivars and “beneficial” non-natives in our plant and seed swaps that passed. And another vote to replace the native plant nursery we’d relied on with a new member’s friend’s nursery that could offer “cultivars”. The majority ruled “cultivars” should be included to reach a wider audience so…. our plant sales started including cultivars. We were lacking volunteers willing to lend a hand to the chapter president so…. we stopped paying for a booth at the county fair…. not enough people willing to man it. Few members were left capable of speaking intelligently about the benefits of natives so invites to elementary schools were declined…. the chapter president couldn’t do them…. he was already spread too thin. I don’t think any 1 thing did us in…. it was sorta a combination over the years. We’d incrementally whittled away at the core values trying to be inclusive to the extent that those paying dues who preferred planting exotics far outnumbered those paying dues who preferred planting natives and without even realizing it…. the dynamics of the entire group had totally changed…. we’d alienated the die-hards who had been the back bone of the chapter when we morphed into a native plant chapter that was a native plant advocacy group in name only. Similar thing happened to my local WildOnes chapter but they’re still afloat.
--
Don’t get me wrong…. money is great…. it helps keep a chapter out of the red but…. I learned there was something to be said for a smaller group of dedicated members who understood the ecological value of native plants who stuck to their core values while welcoming anyone who showed an interest in planting more natives regardless of their preferences or what was growing in their yards. I’ll admit to not renewing my membership. What was the point…. what was done was done. I just quietly slipped away.
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Old 05-06-2014, 07:03 PM   #57
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Mama Monarchs know what milkweeds are good for their offspring
I'm in the middle of tropical milkweed discussions again and this topic popped up. Was re-reading it and this quote by Linda popped out at me. Unfortunately, mama monarchs don't always know what is good for their kids. A couple species of swallow-worts have gotten here that are bad. Monarchs will lay eggs on them but the caterpillars cannot make it.

http://monarchjointventure.org/images/uploads/documents/Swallow-wort_flyer.pdf
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Old 05-12-2014, 06:30 AM   #58
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Quoting Butterfly Linda: " Many members of the organization love growing plants from the northern areas of Mexico!”

I'm wondering if parts of Texas and parts of northern Mexico aren't in the same ecoregion, anyway (never having been to either place). Where I live (in the Mid-Ohio Valley), not even our most serious native plant people seem to make a distinction between plants from the Ohio and West Virginia sides of the river.
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Old 01-15-2015, 02:43 AM   #59
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Peer reviewed research was just published that shows tropical milkweed grown in the southern US is bad for monarchs. It keeps at least some of them for migrating plus helps spread OE, the protozoa that adversely affects monarchs. Backs up what I wrote here in Feb. '13.

The $ quote from the first article:
'The work proves “absolutely definitively” that tropical milkweed is threatening the monarchs and their migration, Brower says.'

Plan to save monarch butterflies backfires | Science/AAAS | News

Loss of migratory behaviour increases infection risk for a butterfly host | Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences

Last edited by KC Clark; 01-15-2015 at 03:46 AM. Reason: Forgot to include the $ quote
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Old 01-15-2015, 10:30 PM   #60
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Originally Posted by KC Clark View Post
Peer reviewed research was just published that shows tropical milkweed grown in the southern US is bad for monarchs. It keeps at least some of them for migrating plus helps spread OE, the protozoa that adversely affects monarchs. Backs up what I wrote here in Feb. '13.

The $ quote from the first article:
'The work proves “absolutely definitively” that tropical milkweed is threatening the monarchs and their migration, Brower says.'

Plan to save monarch butterflies backfires | Science/AAAS | News

Loss of migratory behaviour increases infection risk for a butterfly host | Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences
Excellent citation, KC. Thank you for sharing! This will give me more evidence to help convince folks that planting locally native milkweed is better for our monarchs. Many folks are arguing that because populations are so low, that planting ANY milkweeds is a good thing. Some even promote tropical milkweed over native species because the species grows so fast & provides immediate gratification. My argument is that monarch populations are so low that we cannot afford to further jeopardize them by increasing the probability of OE infection.
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