Spare this weed, save a monarch
The image of milkweed, once on the “hit list,” has undergone a transformation in recent years.
The plant is no longer on the Ontario list of noxious weeds, an assortment of vegetation that has been deemed to be harmful to agriculture.
Milkweed had in the past been targeted by pesticides. However, that traditional practice had collateral damage -- the loss of a food source for the monarch butterfly.
The caterpillars feed only on milkweed, which has become more prominent since the plant was taken off the noxious weed list.
The delicate beauties have also benefited from the recent addition of the dog-strangling vine to the bad weed roster.
The plant does not menace canines, however, the perennial, which can grow to a height of two metres, chokes out other plants.
Colonies form mats of interwoven vines that are difficult to walk through and interfere with forest management and recreational activities.
Leaves and roots may be toxic to livestock. Deer and other browsing animals also avoid dog-strangling vine, which can increase grazing pressure on more palatable native plants.
The vine threatens the monarch butterfly because the butterflies lay their eggs on the plant, but the larvae are unable
Garden Path Homemade Soap shop near Vankleek Hill. Since 2012, the MacWhirters’ property has been designated a Monarch Waystation by Monarch Watch.
to complete their life cycle and do not survive.
Monarchs breed in Canada and the U.S. but migrate to a small forest in a mountainous area of Mexico, where they over-winter. There, their habitat is also being destroyed.
25 noxious plants
This list is comprised of 25 plants that are defined as being harmful to crops, livestock and humans, and injurious to health. Everyone who owns crop land must destroy noxious weeds on it.
Everyone who has land near enough to farmland that noxious weeds could affect crops must also rid the property of those weeds.
DELICATE BEAUTY: MacWhiter’s A monarch butterfly at Tara