It’s been a while since I posted a president’s note, so I thought I’d better sit down and write one as the heat and the rain at the moment has me sitting inside. A while back I did a post about the monarchs and their generations journey north in the late spring and back south in the early fall. This spring I did see a monarch circling our milkweed patch near the house on Memorial Day. There had been a large and long (North / South) storm front pass through a day or two before and it must have hitched a ride. It was pretty battered from its trip from what we could see when it finally did land on a milkweed plant. It must have found a few favorable flowers to grab a sip of nectar from because I did see it again a couple days later. Those milkweed plants however, were still almost a month away from flowering. Today they are in full bloom, fragrant and as attractive as ever.
The common milkweed is found in North America from Hudson’s Bay in the north to Mexico and Central America in the south, and west from the Dakota’s to the Maritime Provinces in Canada in the east. Asclepias syriaca, the scientific name for the common milkweed, has an interesting background. The genus name Asclepias is derived from the Greek god of medicine, Asklepios since several milkweed species have been used for medicinal purposes. The first specimens arrived in Europe sometime in the late 1500’s and the species name given to it at that time was syriaca, due to the mistaken notion that it had come from Syria. But the name still stands today.
As for what other critters, besides Monarchs, use the common milkweed as home, I took a short 15-minute walk around my “milkweed garden” and took some photos. Here is what I found:
- Of course monarchs and their caterpillars
- Milkweed bugs
- Milkweed beetles
- Eastern bumble bees
- Honey bees and Mason Bees (same photo)
- Ctenucha moth
- Cream colored butterfly (I tried to identify it, but it had lost too many color scales.)
If it wasn’t 90+ degrees, full sun at 4:00PM I probably would have seen a few more critters on the milkweed plants. Check out the photos and see if you can improve on my identification.
So the next time you are at the Conservancy and walking through the Stodola Prairie towards the inter-park trail, stop and look at our common milkweed patches. You may be surprised at what you see.
See you at a safe distance on the trails.
Paul De Chant
President Friends of Lac Lawrann Conservancy