Milkweed For Monarchs

Monarch Larva on Milkweed Leaf

Monarch Larva on Milkweed Leaf

Soon, the Monarchs in Mexico will head north and begin to lay their eggs on milkweed.   Milkweed is native to eastern Texas which is one of the first oviposition sites available to migrants heading north.  A robust milkweed population could help the migrants get the next generation off to a good start. Agricultural practices have succeeded in eliminating much of the milkweed from areas planted to crops where milkweed can be a pest. Part of a plan to nurture the Monarch population is to compensate for the loss of milkweed in crop land by planting milkweed elsewhere. This year, efforts will be made to plant milkweed in eastern Texas.  If the first generation encounters an abundance of milkweed, perhaps more adults can be produced to continue the migration north.  Planting milkweed could expand the available habitat and is an experiment worth a try.  Like all experiments, the implementation and outcome must be evaluated to determine the effectiveness and how it might be improved. The impact of agricultural practices on Monarch populations has attracted national attention because of the iconic status of the Monarch. How many insect populations, far under the radar are adversely affected by the new practices and what impacts will arise? This is also an “experiment” with unknown outcomes.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is a retired Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in by jjneal, Endangered Species, Environment, News, Policy. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Milkweed For Monarchs

  1. Debra says:

    Thanks so much for pointing out something that most people are not talking about. Monarchs may just be like the miner’s canary. It seems likely to me that many species have been displaced by monoculture commodity crops but they are slippping away with no comment. I hate to say it but I think we can guess all too well just what the results of this ‘experment’ will be. This is the tragedy of (an unregulated) commons.

  2. Brian says:

    Hopeful that Monarch population concerns will level out in the coming years– never good to hear about a potentially major ecosystem disruption.

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