Tag Archives: milkweeds

Flight of Monarch Butterflies in my yard

I moved out of Chicago (in the middle 1990s) and relocated to the far northwestern part of  Illinois, I noticed that the Milkweeds I had grown in my Chicago backyard -to attract butterflies -were nowhere to be seen in my new home, and that any butterflies I found around my new home were weak and dying.

Odd, right! Especially since I was out of the city and surrounded by farms and open prairies. Miles of  Illinois countryside. I had assumed the butterflies would be abundant. I was wrong.

Humans have always ignored the tiny life forms that buzz and flutter around; we were lead to believe they were unnecessary and an inconvenience. We are slowly understanding how wrong we were and that we need to protect nature if the human race is to survive.

Before I moved permanently out of Chicago, I  had gathered Milkweed seed pods from my Chicago garden and planted them into my new garden.

As my property grew upward and blocked some of my Milkweeds from the farm fields pesticide, my Milkweeds proliferate, and they attracted Monarchs.

In 2015, The Washington Post had an article, “As pesticides wipe out Monarch butterflies in the U.S., illegal logging is doing the same in Mexico.”

Monarchs are the world’s ‘miners canaries’ are we listening?   Large companies profit from the production and sales of poisons.  Those companies are feeding on our fears of bugs or insects known as Entomophobia or Acarophobia.

We have groups like the Monarch Way Station NetWork.

Monarch Waystation Network

The Monarch Conservation Database of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service~ “We have developed a database to capture information about recently (i.e. since 2014) completed, ongoing and planned conservation efforts for the monarch butterfly….This includes improving and creating habitat by enhancing milkweed and blooming nectar plant resources.”

 

This is a wonderful site to find out how to help the Monarchs in your own backyard.

Direct Action

“Monarch populations have already lost an estimated 165 million acres of breeding habitat across the United States to herbicide spraying and development. Yet when the Environmental Protection Agency approved new dicamba products in 2016, it did not even analyze risks to monarchs” ~kansascity.com

And then there is Monsanto. Heavy sigh… the company that profits from the sales of their pesticides. Monsanto is also in control of our food supply. 

All of the Monarch pictures are my own.  All photo’s and the video were created in my yard. A big ‘Thank You’ to the Monarchs.  If you would like to have your own butterfly garden check out ‘Pollinator Habitat’  at the Monarch Waystation Network

What are your thoughts on the plight of the Monarch? What are your thoughts on Monsanto?

 

Milkweeds, Snowballs and Wishes

400px-Milkweed-in-seed2

I have been trying to grow milkweeds on my property for the past fourteen years. I have some milkweeds with whitish flowers, and some with pink flowers.

When I first moved here, the Milkweeds were small and very few, they were about ten inches high and scrawny. A neighbor, in Chicago, had credited me with the first monarch butterflies he had seen in years. So I pulled out my squirreled away milkweed seeds, saved from my Chicago plants. They were tall ones, three to maybe five feet tall.

I wanted to bring that out here. This is the country; it should have been easy to grow wildflowers, right?  Well, not really. When the farmers spray the fields in the spring I lost the majority of the milkweeds. A few survived growing next to some trees or protected by tall grass. Each year they made the attempt to grow taller and stronger. Until finally had a patch in the front, near the drainage pond. Last year, that area flooded and the milkweeds sat in deep water for over a month and everything turned black and molded.

This year I had a small patch closer to the driveway. I watched it all summer. The plants grew between three and five feet tall. Even when they started to die down, the stalks stood straight and held onto the seed pods.

I was expecting to grab a couple of seed pods, like I do every year, and save them in the garage until spring. Two days ago, the seeds burst out of their pods, in a puff of pure white, sparkly, silky blur. The small flat brown seeds were connected like tiny parachutes waiting for the winds to catch them. For a moment, serenely, they held on to their pods, narcissistically I assumed they were waiting for me to notice them.

I did a double take when I walked out to get the mail.  Surrounded by a variety of browns and dried dark greens, and sitting on those splotchy dried stalks the  pods had burst into view. At first glance, I thought I was looking at snow perched on the end of a branch.   

I have to admit, second and third glances they still looked like snowballs.

 I waded through the dried grass to get a closer look. At that moment, a slight breeze made a wish and the seeds drifted around and above me, the seeds littered the grass, and wafting along on each breeze.

My first thought, “The Monarchs will love this.” Then I remembered that sometimes the farmers use Bt insecticides their crops, not very beneficial to Monarchs. 

We live in a world of chemicals, electromagnetic radiation; poison rain,… the list can be endless. All this makes me wonder how one person, not pouring chemicals into the land can help?  Help will come when we start to love the so called, weeds again and stop being afraid. Fear is a reaction to things we don’t understand.

I wonder if I make a wish with one of these seed pods, like a child when holding up dandelion that has gone to seed and wish for ,…What would you wish for?

 

 

This site has a description of what, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) corn pollen is;

“Colorado State University”

http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/crops/00707.html

Here is some information from the, University of Illinois Extension, Illinois Pesticide Review;

http://web.extension.uiuc.edu/ipr/i4188_829.html

“Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a bacteria that occurs naturally in the soil. It produces an endotoxin crystal that attacks the gut membrane and creates pores, which cause leakage and swelling. The swelling continues until cells burst, which allows the gut contents to leak into the insect’s blood, disrupting the blood pH and resulting in paralysis and death within 24 to 72 hours. In Bt corn, the genes in the bacteria that code for the production of this endotoxin crystal are inserted through genetic engineering into the corn plant. The resulting corn plants produce the endotoxin crystal, causing the death of caterpillars that feed on them. This toxin is produced in many locations of the corn plant, including the pollen.”

Picture of Milkweed-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Milkweed-in-seed2.jpg