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Milkweed species have proven beneficial in the protection of monarks

Queen butterfly larvae and oleander aphids eating bracts of milkweed growing on the roadside in Carlsbad, New Mexico. Credit: Shaun McCoshum / Provided

Researchers have identified milkweed seeds that can be expected to be planted on the roadside to improve conservation habitats for monarch butterfly migration.


A study published online February 1st, “The Ecology of Asclepias Brachystephana: Plants for Roadside and Right-of-Way Management” Native plant journalResearchers investigate milkweed (Asclepias brachystephana), where it grows, which organisms utilize plants, seed production, and concentration of milkweed toxin (called cardenolide). Explains how to record. The findings prove that this species is suitable for planting on the roadside or within a right-of-way protection project.

Entomologists have warned that the number of insects is declining worldwide.The migrating monarchs have lost their habitat Host plantAs a potential reason for the decrease in monark numbers, such as the milkweed larvae that grow along the path of migration.

As a result, some management projects have replaced invading grass previously planted on roadsides and pipelines as follows: Native species It feeds insects and provides habitat.

“North America is home to more than 130 species of milkweed, the majority of species that are generally rarer or limited in scope than the common milkweed (A. syriaca) that dominates the northeast. “I’m just beginning to understand biology,” said Anurag Agrawal, Professor James A. Perkins of Environmental Studies in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Faculty of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and the lead author of the paper.

“Incorporating these plants into nature maintenance projects required knowing the natural extents of these plants,” said Sean McCoshum, a postdoc researcher in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. I am.

For the study, McCoshum drove a total of 3,000 miles along pipelines and roadsides in the Chihuahuan Desert and adjacent ecoregions to investigate and identify bract milkweed populations. He found that monarch butterflies grow in wide southwestern strips, including Texas, New Mexico, parts of Arizona, and most of Mexico where monarch butterflies and monarch butterflies (sisters of monarch butterflies) live and migrate. ..

McCoshum also collected data on herbivores found eating plants, such as oleander aphids, queen butterflies, milkweed moths, and crimson lichen moths. Some identification information comes from iNaturalist, a civic science project that allows the general public to collect and record species data. Due to the timing of the investigation, McCoshum did not find a monarch in the plant, but Agrawal did research to show that the monarch successfully eats and grows bract milkweed.

The monarchic population, which moves north each year, overwinters in Mexico and has its first generation in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas before expanding north. Each successive generation, called continuous breeding migration, moves to a new range over the course of a year, extending to Canada and the northern states of the United States. The last generation can live for up to 9 months and move back to the wintering grounds of Mexico. It is known to grow young in the milkweed in the southwest during this autumn trip on its way home.

Butterflies of Towata have nectar that supports pollutants, including native bee seeds, winged butterflies of blue and lycaenid butterflies, and predatory insects that help control crop pests.

Because milkweed toxins can cause disease and kill livestock, ranchers often oppose removing milkweed from their land and planting it near fields. Researchers have discovered that bract milkweed contains high levels of toxins in the wild, yet it only spreads to disturbed and mowed areas.

“During the investigation, I kept finding it on the roadside, and the population grew along the turbulent areas, but they never crossed the fence into undisturbed or unmanaged areas,” McCoshum said. rice field. “This is an exciting aspect of this milkweed aimed at roadside restoration, especially for the landowners involved.”

Seed companies can now use this information to produce seeds for areas within the range of the plant, establish them for conservation purposes and prevent soil erosion.


Studies show that not all milkweeds are equal to spawning monarchs


For more information:
Shaun M McCoshum et al, Ecology of Asclepias brachystephana: Plants for roadside and right-of-way management, Native plant journal (2022). DOI: 10.3368 / npj.22.3.256

Provided by
Cornell University

Quote: Milkweed Species to Monarch Conservation (February 22, 2022) obtained from https: //phys.org/news/2022-02-milkweed-species-beneficial-monarch.html on February 22, 2022 Proven to be beneficial

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Milkweed species have proven beneficial in the protection of monarks

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