Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.

Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.
The purpose of this blog is to provide information on using native plants in the landscape, issues related to invasive exotic plants, urban wildlife management, and wildlife damage management. It is my intention that this information will assist you in deciphering the multitude of information circulating around the web and condense in some meaningful method as it relates to Kentucky. In addition, I hope to highlight a native plant that can be used in the landscape.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Plant Now to Save the Monarch Butterfly

Coral hairstreak on butterfly milkweed

Monarch on common milkweed

Monarch on ironweed

Buckeye on swamp or red milkweed

The long-term trend is quite disturbing as this spring's monarch count is once again down 20-30%.  There are various reasons for the decline including the use of glyphosate resistant corn and soybean crops where the herbicide is sprayed to kill everything, including milkweeds, which of course female monarchs must have to lay their eggs on.  In addition, land is being converted in the farming regions of this country from pasture/hayland/idle grassland to, you guessed it, more glyphosate resistant corn and soybean crops. Monarch Watch estimates that more than 100 million acres of milkweed habitat are now gone and planted to glyphosate resistant crops.  A recently published research study from Iowa supports this theory of declining monarch populations to genetically altered crops.  But that isn't the entire story as habitat continues to be lost in the Mexican wintering grounds and climate change, with extended periods of drought in some areas, particularly Texas, have also played into the declining population scenario. So what can you do to help monarchs?  Plant milkweeds in the garden.  Not only will you enjoy the monarch caterpillars but you will also enjoy large numbers of other butterflies nectaring on them.  More than 42 species nectar on common milkweed, 22 on swamp or red milkweed, and 9 on butterfly milkweed.  Make sure you plant them in full sun in loamy soil as milkweeds typically do not like clay soils.  Go ahead and put some in the ground today, the monarchs and other butterflies will thank you.

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