One of the tasks that I had on my list for this spring in the garden was to remove or at least drastically reduce the milkweed in my yard.
For the past four years I've been growing a few kinds of milkweed for the monarch butterflies. I started when a volunteer Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed) sprang up in my prairie beds.
Did you know that this species of milkweed spreads from rhizomes and can form large colonies? I learned that the second year.
After seeing no real monarch activity the first year, or the second, or the third -- I did see one that was acting like it was laying eggs last year but never saw eggs and never a caterpillar -- I decided that I would remove almost all of the Asclepias syriaca from my garden this year. I was thinking of leaving just a little bit.
While working on the pond edging a couple of weeks ago I saw a monarch flit through the yard. After circling a few times it landed on something -- it was a 6" (15cm) tall milkweed stalk!
This butterfly was actually laying eggs too:
It's the small white dot near the center of the image.
Of course the first stalk that was visited was one that was right in the middle of the path...
...and now I feel like I need to wait until I can see evidence of the caterpillars before I remove ANY of these stalks.
So it looks like I'll have a milkweed-heavy garden again this year.
At least I can say that there's a good reason for not weeding these beds yet -- I'm certainly not procrastinating or being lazy, right?