The Twelve Days of a Green Christmas…Second Day…

On the second day of Christmas my green friend gave to me…two milkweed plants…and a live Christmas tree!

photo: FloridaGardener. Asclepias curassavica, Butterfly Weed, Milkweed

My green friend knows I love butterflies and am very concerned about the declining population of monarch butterflies so 2 milkweed plants are a great gift!  Although not native to Florida the Asclepias curassavica plant, aka milkweed or butterfly plant, is a favorite nectar source for monarch butterflies and an important food source for their caterpillars.  These milkweed plants are self-sowing so I should have several next year.

So why the declining butterfly population you ask? With stronger and more toxic chemicals added to pesticides and lawn fertilizers milkweed fields are disappearing from our landscapes, most importantly the Midwest, as agricultural cornfield areas have increased their use of GM corn seeds and herbicides to kill milkweed.  Bringing it down to a more “local” level too many homeowners believe the milkweed plant to be a nuisance “weed” and do not want it in their manicured landscapes. Other thoughts on the declining population include climate change, increased use of genetically modified plant seeds/plants use, illegal logging and deforestation in Mexico.

photo: The Whig. Monarch Butterfly

According to the data from the WWF (World Wildlife Foundation)-Telcel Alliance and Mexico’s National Commission for Protected Areas the number of butterflies hibernating in Mexico was at an all-time low in 2013.  At a 44% drop from the 2012 migrating season (November-March) only 1.65 acres of forest were inhabited in December, 2013! This is the lowest since the surveys began in 1993.

Monarch butterflies are not only valuable for aesthetic reasons but butterflies and moths are also valuable indicators of our environmental health and a healthy ecosystem! They are an important element in the food chain and are prey for birds, bats and other insectivorous animals. 

So on this second day of a green Christmas I am thrilled with the 2 milkweed plants that my green friend gave to me!  I will plant one in the front yard so my neighbors might get the idea of planting one when they see the monarch butterflies in my yard and one in my backyard to hopefully begin a small milkweed patch for migrating monarchs.

If you are reading this post as the first you might be wondering what the heck I am doing talking about the twelve days of Christmas after Christmas.  Follow this link and I’ll explain the reason for my posts.

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