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Naturalists Encourage Planting Milkweed to Attract Butterflies

Monarch butterfly on swamp milkweedArlington naturalists want to see more Monarch butterflies in the county, and they are hoping residents with green thumbs can help make it happen.

In an email to the Arlington Neighborhood News Exchange, Long Branch Nature Center Naturalist Rachael Tolman wrote that the best way to ensure the butterflies’ presence in the area is to plant milkweed.

“Milkweed provides a critical link in the life cycle of monarch butterflies; they cannot survive without it,” Tolman wrote. “Monarchs lay their eggs on milkweed because it is the only food their caterpillars can eat. Unfortunately, the numbers of milkweed plants across vast areas of North America have been declining for decades due to increased land use for crops and widespread herbicide use.”

According to National Geographic, Monarchs east of the Rocky Mountains are threatened because where they migrate in the winter in Mexico has been hurt by natural disasters.

Long Branch Nature Center (625 S. Carlin Springs Road) offers milkweed seeds for free. In addition to the seeds, those interested in planting the flower — there are eight species native to Arlington — will need “a seed starter kit, soil, water, a heat mat (optional) and a grow light or sunny spot,” Tolman said.

For more information on planting milkweed and attracting butterflies, email Tolman at [email protected].

Photo by Derek Ramsey via Wikimedia

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