female monarch on hairy balls
Backyard Wonder

How to Make a Difference in One Easy Step

female monarch on hairy balls
Female monarch flitting through Gomphocarpus physocarpus, commonly known as hairy balls milkweed

Just now in the garden, I spotted a female monarch flitting about the Gomphocarpus Physocarpus, more commonly known as Hairy Balls milkweed. (pause for giggles).

An annual milkweed here in zone 5 Indiana, this milkweed is the latest viable milkweed source for migrating monarchs and munching cats. The pods burst open to show off a swirl of fluff and seeds, which I collect and will start inside next spring. The flowers are singular, delicate, and dangly and have a light vanilla scent.

I read someone say she flings milkweed seeds every year, though it may be an insignificant offering when so much is needed to help the monarch. But it isn’t insignificant any more than an upturned leaf filled with rainwater, or a March-blooming violet, or a stand of monarda stems left for the winter.

Our pollinators need your plants for food and shelter, and water. A monarch can lay 100-1,000 eggs, which she needs to do to ensure the 1-2% rate of making it to adulthood. Your one plant is not just significant, it’s vital.

Imagine if we all understood it like that, instead of feeling like we can’t make a difference. You can see the difference being made in real-time by checking out the Journey North map here. People all over North America post sightings of monarchs (and other migrating species) as part of citizen science. You don’t need to have a Ph.D. to make a meaningful difference in this world, just a little TLC from each person goes a long way.

It isn’t insignificant any more than an upturned leaf filled with rainwater, a March-blooming violet, a stand of monarda stems left for the winter.

Two other resources to help you see how you can create some good for pollinators are:

Monarch Joint Venture’s citizen science page

And for our friends in Canada

The David Suzuki Foundation’s Butterflyway Projecthttps://davidsuzuki.org/take-action/act-locally/butterflyway/


Writer, Master Gardener, Chaser of Wonder.
Total post: 30

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *