After a recent Plant Exchange Monarch butterfly feature, tidbits from Kate-Lyn Bunney’s blog related to her nonprofit MonarchJointVenture.org came to light. She featured an article about some of the Monarch’s favorite food and habitat, milkweed.
Milkweed grows foliage and blooms in this region near the end of June when some migrating Monarchs might be headed north, or caterpillars are hungry. Some native milkweed grows in the region.
In World War II, milkweed floss was substituted for kapok in life jackets because of the short supply. School children collected trainloads of milkweed pods to Petoskey, Michigan, for processing. The floss looks something like this butterfly weed floss.
As you can see in Bunney’s blog, milkweed had been an ingredient in Ingram’s Milkweed Cream, a popular complexion cream for many years.
Bunney also referred to a 2008 invention of sunscreen from milkweed oil that contains Omega 7 fatty acids. She is interested in many milkweed uses that grow well in the region and is tied to Monarch food and habitat conservation as they migrate.
Monarch caterpillars also like butterfly weed that’s in full foliage and blooms about in August and September when we see Monarchs migrating south.
Here is a butterfly weed in orange that pairs well as an ornamental with other flowers you might plant.
Late summer caterpillars do enjoy the butterfly weed foliage. Milkweed and butterfly weed might be “food for thought” in creating garden habitat for favorite butterflies.
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