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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - October 29, 2008

From: Denton, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildlife Gardens
Title: Why are there no monarch butterflies feeding on my milkweed
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Mike Quinn

QUESTION:

I brought a milkweed from LA that has orange and yellow flowers. I live in Denton, TX. I haven't seen any eggs from the monarchs yet. Do the monarchs live on different milkweed in TX? I looked up the milkweed in TX and found that there are different milkweeds, which I didn't know. I have the one with the orange and yellow flowers and looks like a plant, but can grow into a tall shrub. Right now, they are making seeds (Oct). I've grown hundreds of monarchs and have created dozens of monarch community gardens for schools. So why don't I have monarchs laying eggs on my milkweed?

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants isn't sure if you have the native milkweed, Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly milkweed), or the introduced milkweed, A. curassavica (bloodflower).  Whichever it is, however, it should be a perfectly good milkweed host for monarch larvae.  The reason you aren't seeing any eggs or larvae on it now is that the monarchs that you are flying now are migrants heading to Mexico and they are generally in reproductive diapause, i.e., they are not laying eggs. Their goal is to get to Mexico where they will overwinter and then become reproductive again in February and March.  For more information about the life-cycle and migration of the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) visit the U. S. Forest Service Monarch Butterfly information page and MonarchButterflyUSA.com.  For information about Texas milkweeds for monarchs visit Texas Monarch Watch.

 


Asclepias tuberosa

Asclepias tuberosa

Asclepias tuberosa

Asclepias tuberosa

 

 

 

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