Collect milkweed pods to help monarch butterflies

These pods milkweed pods are ready to be picked.

(Posted Oct. 20, 2023)

Did you know that milkweed is the most important plant for the monarch butterfly? Milkweed is referred to as a “host” plant for the monarch, meaning their survival is dependent on finding and utilizing these colorful native plants.

To promote healthy populations of monarch butterflies, the Madison Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) is part of the Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative’s annual milkweed pod collection. Interested participants are asked to collect common milkweed pods and drop them off at the specially marked collection bin in front of the SWCD office at 831 U.S. Highway 42 NE, London, through Nov. 15.

Several species of milkweed native to Ohio, including common, butterfly, and swamp milkweed, are all used by monarchs on their annual migration through the region. When collecting seed pods, be sure you are collecting from the common milkweed only.

These pods milkweed pods are not ready to be picked.

Pick pods when they are dry and gray or brown in color. If the center seam pops with gentle pressure, they are ready to be picked. Leave some pods (10 to 25 percent) on the plants so that seeds have a chance to naturally disperse and do their job as an important food source for milkweed bugs and other critters.

Put collected pods into paper bags or paper grocery sacks. Avoid plastic because of the risk of moisture accumulation. Clearly mark the county where pods were collected on each container along with the date of collection. Store pods in a cool, dry area until delivered to collection station.

Once collected, the pods will be processed with the help of the prison horticultural programs and the seeds will be planted in pollinator projects across Ohio.

For more information about this program or how to establish pollinator habitat on your property, contact Broc Sehen, SWCD district technician, at (740) 852-4003.

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