It’s milkweed time! Sustainable Wellesley is doing its part to help the Monarch butterfly by sourcing milkweed for Wellesley residents to put in their yards. Monarch populations are crashing, and one reason is the lack of milkweed that Monarch caterpillars must eat to survive. Sustainable Wellesley has that milkweed, a beautiful pink and white plant that attracts beautiful butterflies to your home. You can place your order here.
This year Sustainable Wellesley is making it a fund-raiser and accepting donations of $5 for each ‘plug’ of milkweed, or if you’d rather you may purchase plugs at the organization’s cost of $2 each. They recommend 2-4 plugs to get milkweed established in your yard. It prefers full sun and average-moisture soil.
Amazingly enough, Monarchs can produce four generations during one summer. After overwintering in the oyamel forests of central Mexico, the first three generations have life spans of two to six weeks and keep moving north. During this time they will mate and have the next generation that will continue the northward migration. The fourth generation is different and can live up to nine months, and this is the one that needs to find milkweed in your yard. These are also the butterflies that will migrate south for winter to either Mexico or southern California.
Monarch numbers have plummeted by 90% in recent years from the loss of overwintering grounds and the widespread elimination of milkweed in the United States by the use of herbicides like Roundup. This is where you come in. By planting milkweed in your yard you provide the vital link in the Monarch lifecycle. Each year Sustainable Wellesley sources the correct species of milkweed for eastern Massachusetts (Asclepias incarnata) and makes it available to butterfly breeders like you.
Editor’s note: Milkweed isn’t easy to find at garden centers. Most places would no more keep it in inventory than they would goldenrod or dandelions. It doesn’t take well to being dug up from the roadside and transplanted, in my experience. I’ve placed my order for four plugs at $5 a pop and can’t wait to give it a try.
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