By Shirley D Smith, Somervell County Master Gardener
If you are receiving this Newsletter, then I assume you are interested in gardening – and – if you are interested in gardening then it stands to reason you are interested in all its aspects. One very important aspect is the pollinators that keep almost all plants reproducing. One pollinator that has been in the news of late is the Monarch butterfly and it is in trouble. Many factors have contributed to the decline in Monarch butterfly numbers (i.e. climate change, encroachment into their habitat, etc.)
One important issue is the decline of the space on which the milkweed grows. So much of the prairie, which runs through the middle of America has been and is in decline. If you find milkweed growing on your property, leave it! IT IS NOT A WEED! The monarchs lay their eggs on all different species of milkweed and this is what the caterpillar eats. Many folks are trying to grow milkweed by using seeds. This is not an easy task as many wildflowers are very picky about this sort of thing and prefer to “do it myself.”
We have milkweed in Somervell County and I actually have a lot of it on my property. I make sure that our pasture is not mowed until the late fall when most of the wildflowers have done their thing.
If you want to learn more about milkweed then get online and read about it. There is a lot of information about it and the more you know the better. The scientific name is Asclepias. Look up and see what the “baby” milkweed looks like so you won’t accidentally pull it up.
I have actually heard that over the past few years, the Monarch numbers seem to be steady but let’s you and I do all we can to make certain we continue to see this beautiful butterfly for many, many years.