Need Help in Piedmont NC rearing Monarchs - looking for MWs!

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7b)

Hello - I am looking for reliable source(s) of MW for rearing Monarch caterpillars. The heat took a toll on my MW and afraid I will not have enough to support the cats.

Any thoughts/leads/sources are greatly appreciated!!! :)

~Amanda in Greensboro

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Craig Co., VA(Zone 7a)

I would look along the edges of streams that go through meadows and fields. You might find some that have had enough water.

Portage, WI(Zone 5a)

There are a zillion here putting out seed right now. Need some? I can send you some.

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7b)

Why thank you, yes - that would be splendiferous. :)

Willing to pay postage. We are prepping some land to plant - my friend has permission to plant on seven (7) acres! Funny. I don't think we'll get that much of it done. There's always next year.

My addy is in the Exchange. Let me know if there's anything on my have list that you would like in trade.


Greensboro, NC(Zone 7b)

Hello everyone:

I am bumping this thread to once again solicit Milkweed SEEDS.

This spring I sent hundreds of packets of seed for free to interested friends, family, and neighbors.

Please, if you have an abundance or just a few plants, pleas let me know if you are able to share for this very worthy cause.

Thanks so much.



Check out the Gardenweb website. The butterfly forum is very active there. You might find someone close to you with extra, or just some extra info. And there is now a thread for "Adopt a milkweed newbie" to facilitate more planting of the MW.

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7b)

Hi, thanks for this.

I have planted extra MW this year, hoping they will come. :)

Clarksville, TN(Zone 6b)

They are expecting the lowest Monarch count in history this year. Makes me sad. :(...

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7b)

I can't give up hope!!! :/

Clarksville, TN(Zone 6b)

No, never give up hope. But I can't be a Pollyanna either. I've had them here in my Monarch Waystation in very small numbers. I do tend to grieve over things I cherish.

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7b)

Of course.

In the 80s in college I decided not to have kids based on the SCIENCE that projected the decline/extinction of certain megafauna. No one said anything about butterflies. :/

Clarksville, TN(Zone 6b)

Silent Spring.

Hornell, NY(Zone 5a)

Aha, I did find Amanda! Okay, I do have milkweed pods and seeds. They grow everywhere around here, mostly in lowland swamps and marshs. It's very pretty in bloom, but most consider it a weed.

A great attractant for butterflies and birds that eat the seeds. We used to play with the open pods as kids because the seeds had little "parachutes" attached that blew with the wind.

I've got plenty, let me know and I can pick off more. They are seeding right now and are easy prey for birds so must pick soon.


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Greensboro, NC(Zone 7b)

Hello Al!

I'd be happy to take as much as the birds can spare. Around here the MW bugs sit on the pods and eat . . .?

I'll reimburse you for postage or we can swap in case you're looking for something new for your gardens. :)

Travel much this summer?

I didn't see many pictures of Charley. ;)


Hornell, NY(Zone 5a)

I've never heard of a caterpillar farm before, but if you say so Amanda....I'll send you some pods.

Our Charley Icon has been several places this year. I have a special compartment to stow him in our new Ford Focus, he goes everywhere with us.

South to Ste. Augustine Beach FL and later Savannah GA, I think we passed you twice.
North to Lake Placid on Mirror Lake and Whiteface Mountain (Olympic stadium)
West to Memphis and Nashville TN (Graceland, Opryland, Churchill Downs)
East to Boston, Maine Coast, and Nova Scotia (just looking for a good fish fry)

I probably should start a web page just for his travels, but it would likely get boring!

Here's Charley sitting at his exclusive table on Millionaire's Row at Churchill Downs in Lexington Kentucky, home of the Kentucky Derby. Not many races on tap today, but we went to the track museum and had fun anyway!


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Hornell, NY(Zone 5a)

Sorry, I got off the subject and a little carried away with Charley...

Here's another one called Tithonia that might work in your butterfly and bird garden. The generic version is about 6' tall covered with bright florescent orange flowers branching everywhere. A totally outrageous, somewhat gaudy plant that will enliven any wildflower garden. I will have "tons" of seed available for this one, the heads are drying up now.


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Greensboro, NC(Zone 7b)

Wowee! Thanks for the whirlwind tour. Charles does get around. Lived in Boston before I moved to NC in 1998. There is not much by way of good fish fry in the Piedmont region. Miss the water for sure.

I have Tithonia, thanks . :)

You describe it perfectly. Our odd cool season has stunted most of my heat loving plants including the tithonia and the cassia alata.

Al, what can we send you in return? I think I've suggested you look at the inventory journal entries if you're bored. ;)


P... maybe a Facebook page for Charley?

Vienna, VA(Zone 7a)

I have a question about harvesting seeds from common milkweed pods. The pods in question are covered with red milkweed beetles, and the ends are black (i.e. half black, half green). Should I wait until they're all black to pick the pods, cut some off now and leave them (and the beetles which presumably are laying eggs) where I want the milkweed to grow, or just write those pods off as unusable?

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7b)

I usually leave the plants and the bugs do their thing naturally. The common MW in my yard has lost all its leaves. The pods turn brown and then burst open naturally. I have read that the MW bugs (long thin shaped like lightening bugs) eat the seeds (?) but it must be something on the seed coat. They don't eat the seeds but they wait on the pods until they burst open and then hang out inside. I know ants eat the coating on seeds too, taking them to bury underground.

I am conflicted about the MW beetles which actually eat the foliage.

The seeds are still viable, don't "write them off."

I don't direct sow in my yard so I can't speak to what may happen. I often use the Prairie Moon site as a reference for sowing to determine whether pre-treatment is necessary. It says they will benefit from 30 days cold/moist treatment.

Or you could let Mother Nature do her thing. Toss up.

Vienna, VA(Zone 7a)

I think the bugs are Oncopeltus fasciatus. The Missouri Botanical Garden says they feed on the seeds by piercing the seed pod, which definitely seems to be what they're doing. They're not waiting until the pods open. There might be no seeds left when they're done, but maybe I'll toss the black pods in the woods and see what happens in the spring.

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7b)

Well, I have to tell you from watching them all season. They did not harm the seeds.

They sat on unripened pods and waited for them to open. They did a little dance inside the pod once they browned and opened on their own, and then moved to the next unripe pod. Waited. etc.

The seeds are perfectly intact. I have collected them before and grown more plants from those plants/seeds and I will again this year.

It's up to you of course what you do. Just sharing my own experience.

I saw less of the aphid crowd as well this season. We had a Monarch in the driveway this morning. All is well.

Vienna, VA(Zone 7a)

Thanks - I've got nothing to lose by collecting the pods after they open, so I'll distribute them in sunny areas and see what pops up in the spring.

Vienna, VA(Zone 7a)

I picked 3 brown pods today and took them to the woods. I set one down on the ground and then couldn't find it, so there might be a lot of milkweed plants in that spot next spring.
You were right, of course, they were full of perfect-looking seeds. I had fun picking out places to scatter them so that Mother Nature can do her thing.

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7b)

I realize d last year that I had returned to being an optimist by virtue of the fact that I was planning a Garden and looking forward to spring. :)

Hornell, NY(Zone 5a)

I did see a beautiful monarch on one of my zinnias this morning! The weather had chilled off a bit and he wasn't moving very fast. I ran inside to grab my camera, only to return to see him gone. Darn, missed another one.


Vienna, VA(Zone 7a)

While I was googling for the exact wording of a quote along the lines of "to sow a seed is to believe in the future", I came across this link to quotes by/for gardeners: There are few to which I couldn't relate.

I've seen a few monarchs this year, but not nearly as many as I used to.

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7b)

Oh gee. I'm going to get lost on the page of quotations. Thanks!

Al, scientists have tried to determine what causes the migration... temps or angle of the sun. I'm going with angle of the sun or they wouldn't be in upstate New York in mid October! Although the data also show the migration has been slowed/ delayed by the cool wet spring. I hear they are pouring into Texas in great numbers. That's encouraging. I sure hope you plant a lot of MW for next season at the park. If you want, you could place an "order" with me and I could grow
extra to ship to you. :)

Hornell, NY(Zone 5a)

Geez, I completely forgot to post up my park photos. As you can see, there just isn't much color here. All they want me to do is add a few perennials and annuals to maybe liven up the landscape a bit. Since I have a huge box of seeds the scatter patch idea might just work. Lots of BE susans, purple coneflowers, sunflowers, tithonia, cosmos, marigolds and zinnias available to use. I've got shoeboxes full of this stuff to toss. There won't be any big plan to this, just scratch the ground surface a little to make soil contact and toss the seeds at random. I know this idea sounds kind of weird, but I've seen this work before. Some of them will reseed by themselves when established, some will not.

Actually this is the place where I found your MW pods, there is already plenty of it there. It only blooms in early summer.

Any thoughts?


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Vienna, VA(Zone 7a)

What a beautiful setting! I love the sumac.
Unless you're planning to sow in areas without grass or have people who can help dig up the grass (and turn it over and leave it die during the winter), I recommend preparing the areas this fall by covering the grass with about 8 sheets of newspaper and putting soil and/or mulch on top to kill it as much as possible before sowing seeds in the spring. You have to overlap the newspapers by at least 4 inches or else the grass will muscle its way through. If the groundskeepers can mulch the leaves they'll no doubt be clearing away, those would be good to mix in with dirt.

I use this method when planting plants or shrubs, leaving any remaining newspaper and digging holes through it for the plants. I haven't used it to sow seeds, but if the newspaper is mostly gone by the time you sow and there is enough dirt to get the seedlings started, it should work for you.

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7b)

I'm guessing the city won't be keen on having Al make a mess on the grounds over winter, though it's a great way to work with the home garden.

Do you have a tiller Al? Grasses tend to outcompete seeds as they have established roots. You can try the toss method if that's all you can do. I'm obviously opinionated about methods and the outcome. Can't hurt to try. You'd have a better success rate if you got the city to till some strips for you before greenup and sowed your seeds then. And/or glyphosate.

It's a huge endeavor and I'm only slightly green with envy. :)

Please keep us posted. The photos show a lot of green. The flowers will be welcome, I'm certain.

Hornell, NY(Zone 5a)

Indeed, you are right Amanda, the city doesn't want me to make mess out of this. Nor do they want it to turn into a formal garden that somebody has to take care of. I can clearly see their point of view. We're proposing a "naturalization" type of thing, not a fancy garden.

Yes, I do have a Mantis tiller I can use to loosen the soil a bit. Also have a 2" auger type device that attaches to my portable cordless drill to make nice clean cut holes in the turf. I agree that tilled soil would stand a much better chance of survival for the seed starting. A few items can be grown out in the Spring and transplanted later.

I have two possibilities with volunteer groups that may be willing to help, so this won't be a "loner" project. We'll see how that works out...


Greensboro, NC(Zone 7b)

I think you have plenty of time to plan, and if you start a group of volunteers and seek out donations perhaps of native perennials from local folks and/or your Master Gardener / Garden club types you could drum up a lot of plants and a lot of hands to help.

It really does sound like a great project. Since the flowers will be competing with grass I'd look at tall native prairie/meadow type plants that will be able to mix with the grass while still growing taller. Then, they won't look like so much of a "mess" but more natural because grasses are an important part of those ecosystems too.

Much fun! Please let me know if we can help. You're a very competent, able gardener, and I'd suspect you could grow a lot of plants yourself to plant out plugs in the spring. They'd get that much more of a jump on the rest, and it will be much easier to track their growth and water, etc., if you can see the individual plants.

Asters, solidagos, coneflower, rudbeckia would be just a few.


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