You can find several varieties sold at garden centers. Their flowers produce a strong and beautiful fragrance in the spring and fluffy seed pods in the fall that the goldfinches love to uses as nesting material.
Common Milkweed is a perennial native to Michigan and much of the eastern half of the U.S. and Canada. It prefers well-drained soils and full sunlight and is very easy to identify with its big broad meaty leaves and tall stem and tight starry flower clusters that look like exploding pink fireworks. It also bleeds a milky white sap wherever broken much like dandelions.
Monarch caterpillars like Milkweed because it contains a variety of chemical compounds that make them poisonous to potential predators. The adult monarch and monarch larvae are both brightly colored serving as a warning to potential predators that they are poisonous. Unsuspecting predators only need to taste a monarch butterfly or larva once to learn not to eat them again. Most animals quickly spit them out.
Spring is a critical time for monarchs. Their numbers are at their lowest point at this time of year. The old generation is dying. A new generation must grow and survive. You can track their migration on the Monarch Butterfly Migration Map.
- Do Monarch Butterflies just wake up in the spring? http://goo.gl/5tkUk
- Monarch migration route http://goo.gl/L66ty
- Punctuation Butterflies: The First Butterfly of Spring! http://bit.ly/JHUpG1
- How Fast Does a Monarch Butterfly Fly? http://bit.ly/ywhpZr
- Did you know butterflies have ears on their wings? http://bit.ly/x04qEi