Question: Hi. I recently received 6 packets from you of Butterfly milkweed. Could you provide some advice on planting? I have a small flower garden ( full sun,) as well as 15 acres of various prairie plants and grasses. Began as all switchgrass but I am slowly planting more and more grasses and forbs. Thanks. Stan
Response: Stan, you may start the seeds indoors after you have moist stratified them. Place the seeds in a zip lock back mixed with moist vermiculite. Leave them in a refrigerator for 30 days. Remove and plant in open flats or small pots with sterile soil medium at a depth of 1/8th to 1/4th inch. They must receive considerable light and warmth to adequately develop. Once they have started to form the white root, they can be transplanted to your garden or field. Keep the competition down from weeds and other plants. They prefer well drained to excessively drained soils in full sun. They do well in rocky poor soils with maximum exposure to the sun and wind. If you want to do a dormant seeding, you may spread the seed now or anytime the ground is exposed. Make sure your seeds are not on frozen ground as they may wash away. Wait until the ground thaws and spread your seed but only lightly cover with a sprinkling of soil or compost no deeper than 1/8 to 1/4 inch. Nature can then freeze and thaw offering the best stratification. Once plants are mature, you must be very careful when you attempt to transplant as the roots are very massive and at least 90% of the roots should be dug with plant and immediately transplanted. You should start seeing blooms the second year and thereafter the plants will grow much stronger and have many blooms in the following years. If your plants, for some reason die or disappear the following year after planting, they are probably in a poorly adaptable site for this species.
Howard aka “Earthyman”
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Posted in Butterflies, Gardening, Ion Exchange Inc, Live Plant Plugs, man and nature, Native Grasses, Native Plant and Seed Nursery, Native Prairies, native wildflowers, Nature, Perennial Plants, Sowing Seed, Wildflower Garden, Wildlife Gardening
Tagged Advice, Asclepias tuberosa, Butterfly, Butterfly Milkweed, Earthyman, Flower Garden, Ion Exchange, Ion Exchange Inc, Milkweed, Natural Beauty, Nature, Planting Seeds, Prairie Grasses, Prairie Plants, Seeds, Soil, Switchgrass
Here in SE MN I noticed the same lack of Monarchs in mid-summer. We also had robust milkweeds with very few larvae. I heard from (entomologically oriented) folks in NE MN that in June they saw far more Monarchs than usual, but with their relatively low population of milkweeds the Monarch seemed to overload the larval food plant. Then in August the flight of Monarchs here in SE MN was the lowest I have every seen.
On Tue, Nov 6, 2012 at 8:21 PM, Bruce And Georgeann <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
I have been following this topic and want to ask about another angle of the past summer’s Monarch slump -at least it was in Nw Iowa.
The Monarch Butterflies, were a real concern here this year. We had quite good numbers showing up in early spring – in fact the dates were record early arrivals for us. And I witnessed egg laying in the pasture…even photographed eggs as they were so obvious. But the thing that really puzzled and concerned me was we had no egg hatches and no caterpillars all summer! I have never, in my life, “Not” seen a Caterpillar all spring, summer or fall!!!???!!! Why after finding eggs, I could later not find larva?
Then the summer was “scant” as far as Monarchs were concerned. Nearly none, just a handful all summer. This should not have been the case here, we had the largest crop of Asclepias (milkweeds) that I’ve ever seen here…we had A. tuberosa(Butterfly Milkweed) in record numbers…they were stunning all over the county…even the area farmers were asking me what that “orange plant” is showing up everywhere! We had way more A. syriaca (Common Milkweed) than I care to see here – the neighborhood is coated with seed parachutes from our pasture…not a real “good neighbor” relations maker with the local farmers. We also had a good share (but down slightly from past years) of A. verticillata (Whorled Milkweed) and a small compliment of A. incarnata (Swamp Milkweed) in the ditches out front.
I witnessed a lone Monarch laying eggs on some Common Milkweed outside the studio windows in late August and tried keeping an eye on them – they were gone after just 3 days!? I don’t know of “egg” eaters in the insect world but maybe something is going on? I know of parasitic wasps in caterpillars – but saw NO CATERPILLARS all summer (as I said before). I haven’t the foggiest idea what is going on?
This fall we had virtually no Monarch roosts here – we usually have 150-500 individuals roost here each fall. 13 was our high number in a roost this fall…”6″ was the other high day…”high” used very sarcastically…
Some folks following this have raised issue with the drought hurting the mid section of the continent’s Monarch survival…I’m sure that has some bearing. They also have raised issue with GMO crops. But it does nothing to explain a local phenomenon like we’ve been experiencing here…eggs laid but no hatching, no larva…with an abundance of food source for larva and adult stages. We do not spray insecticides here on the acreage, but I have no knowledge of GMO crops or spraying issues in the surrounding area, so I can’t speak to that.
Am I imagining things or is there anyone else raising these kinds of observations or concerns? …Bruce Morrison, SE O’Brien County
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Posted in Agriculture, Bird and Butterfly Attractor Station, Butterflies, Environment, Farmland, Gardening, Insects, man and nature, Monarch Caterpillars, natural world, Nature, wildlife, Woodland
Tagged Asclepias, Asclepias incarnata, Asclepias Syriaca, Asclepias tuberosa, August, Bruce Morrison, Butterflies, Butterfly, Caterpillar, Caterpillars, Fall, Ion Exchange, Ion Exchange Inc, Iowa Insects, Larva, Larvae, Milkweed, Milkweeds, Monarch, Monarch (butterfly), Monarch Eggs, Monarch Numbers, Monarch Shortage, Monarch Studies, Seeds, Spring, Summer
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Posted in Bird and Butterfly Attractor Station, Birds, Butterflies, Environment, Gardening, Honeybees, Live Plant Plugs, man and nature, Monarch Caterpillars, Native Grasses, Native Plant and Seed Nursery, Native Prairies, native wildflowers, natural world, Nature, Perennial Garden, Perennial Plants, Tallgrass Prairie, Video, Wildflower Garden, Wildflowers and Native Grasses, Wildlife Gardening
Tagged Butterflies, Butterfly, Butterfly Attractor Station, Butterfly Plants, Ion Exchange, Ion Exchange Inc, native wildflowers, prairie, Prairie Plants, wildflowers
Earthyman explains how you can create your own Butterfly Garden in your back yard using plants from Ion Exchange, native seed and plant nursery in NE Iowa
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Posted in Bird and Butterfly Attractor Station, Butterflies, Fall Planting, Fall Plantings, Gardening, Ion Exchange Inc, Live Plant Plugs, man and nature, Monarch Caterpillars, Native Grasses, Native Plant and Seed Nursery, Native Prairies, native wildflowers, Perennial Plants, Tallgrass Prairie, Urban Gardens, Wildflower Garden, Wildflowers and Native Grasses, Wildlife Gardening
Tagged Back Yard Plants, Backyard Plants, Butterflies, Butterfly, Butterfly Attractor Kit, butterfly garden, Butterfly Garden Backyard, Earthyman, Ion Exchange, Ion Exchange Inc, Native Seed, native wildflowers, NE Iowa, Northeast Iowa, Plant, Plant Nursery, Prairie Plants
Skippers are the sparrows of the butterfly world; lots of species, most of which are small, brown, and difficult to identify by amateur enthusiasts. They often are misidentified as moths, but a closer look reveals the straight antennae (not fuzzy like on moths) that identify them as butterflies.
A skipper butterfly on gray headed coneflower. Restored prairie in Sarpy County, Nebraska.
This particular skipper was sunning itself in a small prairie planting in Sarpy County (eastern Nebraska) last weekend. I have no idea what species it is – maybe some of you will know, but without seeing more of the wings, I can’t tell what it is. It flew off after I took this photo and I didn’t get a good look at it.
(To be honest, I still probably wouldn’t have been able to identify it!) Chris Helzer
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Posted in Bird and Butterfly Attractor Station, Butterflies, Environment, Gardening, man and nature, Monarch Caterpillars, Native Grasses, Native Prairies, natural world, Nature
Tagged Butterflies, Butterfly, Butterfly World, Chris Helzer, Coneflower, Moths, Nebraska, Planting, Prairie Ecologist, Restored Prairie, Sarpy County, Sarpy County Nebraska, Skippers, Sparrows, The Prairie Ecologist
After a thunderstorm and lots of rain last night, I walked out to our 1-mile labyrinth through our 20-year-old prairie. I noticed the mist rising through the thick morning air and smelled the freshness of the ground and air. Dew dripped from the Big Bluestem. Showy Tick-trefoil was seen drooping its purple head now standing 4 feet high towering over the already bloomed Golden Alexanders.
Still the Ohio Spiderwort sends out a spectacular 3 petaled blue flower saying goodbye once again to its blooming season.
The Yellow Coneflowers reach skyward with blooms in the green buds ready to burst into their summer yellow suits supporting their cone heads.
Mad Dog Skullcap sported its pink and white blooms and stood at attention just below the ever-growing Indian Grass.
Cup Plant had reached the overflow mark as its’ cupped leaves held at least 4 ozs. of water after the rain. It continues its upward growth trying to once again outdo itself having reached over 7 feet in height last year.
A closer look revealed a Cream Gentian trying to get attention but alas all it could show were its waxy leaves waiting for another month to bloom and show off its pale yellow color. Of course the Butterfly Milkweed needs no search to find as it shows forth its psychedelic orange heads stealing all the attention to itself.
The prairie hides many treasures just waiting to surprise the passerby with its individual personality made up of a hundred species of native flowers and grasses forming a living community adapted to the seasons of time. A virtual kaleidoscope of dazzling colors turning off and on as the seasons roll by, is there to just enjoy. Each species alone can be cherished but we sometimes forget that they all joined hands at one time making one of the largest living communities in the world sweeping from Texas to Canada.
Listen closely and you can still hear the pounding hooves of the Buffalo.
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Posted in Agriculture, Bird and Butterfly Attractor Station, Butterflies, CRP Land, Environment, Flower Photography, Flower Pictures, Gardening, Grass, Ion Exchange Inc, Live Plant Plugs, man and nature, Native Grasses, Native Plant and Seed Nursery, Native Prairies, native wildflowers, natural world, Nature, Perennial Garden, Perennial Plants, Sowing Seed, Tallgrass Prairie, Wildflower Garden, Wildflower Photography, Wildflowers and Native Grasses, wildlife, Wildlife Gardening
Tagged Big Bluestem, Buffalo, Butterfly, Butterfly Milkweed, Cream Gentian, Cup Plant, Flowers, Golden Alexanders, Grasses, Indian Grass, Ion Exchange, Ion Exchange Inc, Leaves, Mad Dog Skullcap, Milkweed, Native Flowers, native grasses, Ohio Spiderwort, prairie, Prairie Garden, Seasons, Tick-trefoil, wildflowers, Yellow Coneflowers
While standing on our balcony over looking a remnant prairie adjacent to the ocean on South Padre Island, my mind went still. Suddenly, an orange butterfly below me appeared in the little prairie. I noticed that it did not seem to go to some blooming yellow flowers where I expected him to be attracted. Instead he went to a shrub with no flowers, which seemed nondescript. He landed there and seemed to be doing something as he went from shrub to shrub of the same species. He then came within 6 inches of a yellow flower while still remaining on a nondescript shrub. Then he flew over to a yellow flower and hovered a few seconds and flew off.
In the meantime a small yellow butterfly came flipping up and down between the shrubs. Then a light came on for me. I said to myself “if you, the little yellow butterfly, passes straight in front of me and continues north that will be a sign that I am on the right path in making a very difficult decision” that I have been pondering for years. It did do just that. The butterfly passed from East and kept going north with no hesitation. My answer had been given me, “do it”. Then at that same moment when the little yellow butterfly was just landing on the beautiful bloom of a wild primrose, the orange butterfly showed up again at the very flower that he had passed up previously. He landed there and stayed for over 2 minutes getting the most out of this flower that he had avoided before.
The meaning of all this then hit me. I had been given the green flag to pursue the unknown and forget about the old habits of grazing on the nondescript things in life and go for it but stay with it and milk it for all it is worth. A warm feeling came over me and I will never forget this moment.
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Posted in Bird and Butterfly Attractor Station, Butterflies, Gardening, Grass, Insects, Ion Exchange Inc, Live Plant Plugs, man and nature, Monarch Caterpillars, Native Grasses, Native Plant and Seed Nursery, Native Prairies, native wildflowers, Nature, Perennial Garden, Perennial Plants, Spring Planting, Tallgrass Prairie, Urban Gardens, Wildflower Garden, Wildflowers and Native Grasses, wildlife, Wildlife Gardening
Tagged Butterflies, Butterfly, Butterfly Stories, Earthyman, Flowers, Ion Exchange, Ion Exchange Inc, native wildflowers, prairie, Prairie Plants, Primrose, Shrubs, South Padre Island, Wild Primrose, wildflowers