Public asked to collect milkweed pods to help monarchs

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Common milkweed pods are plump and tear-shaped. They have a warty surface and are gold/gray to brown when ripe. Collect them when they are dry and ripe but not open.

(Posted Sept. 7, 2021)

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 between Sept. 15 and Oct. 31 in the collection bin in front of the SWCD office, 831 U.S. Hwy. 42 NE, London.

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

The monarch butterfly is dependent on finding milkweed plants throughout its migration to survive.

Pick pods when they are dry and gray or brown in color but not open. If the center seam pops with gentle pressure, they are ready to be picked. Leave some pods (10 percent to 25 percent) on the plants so 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 each container with the county where pods were collected and the date of collection. Store pods in a cool, dry area until they are delivered to the collection station.

Once collected, the pods will be processed with the help of prison horticultural programs. 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, Madison SWCD district technician, at (740) 852-4003.

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