07-25-2019 Milkweed & Monarchs in the Library Garden

Milkweed & Monarchs in the Library Garden

By Ardie Roth Milkweed is for Monarchs! Pictured is a Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar feeding on common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) in the Watervliet Library Garden Park. The Monarch butterfly is dependent on milkweed species for its survival. Some interesting facts about milkweed; while numerous insects including the monarch butterfly will visit milkweed plants for nectar, Monarch butterflies will only lay their eggs on milkweed. Milkweed species are the sole food source of the Monarch butterfly caterpillar. Milkweed produces glycoside toxins to deter animals from eating them, but Monarch caterpillars have evolved immunity to this toxin. Once the milkweed is ingested by the caterpillar, its blood has toxic characteristics, making it taste bad, protecting it from predators. These toxins remain in their system even as adults to protect the butterfly, as well.