The Twelve Days of a Green Christmas – fifth day


…on the fifth day of Christmas my green friend gave to me…five milkweed plants…four pints of milk…three wax wraps…two re-purposed pallets…and a smart ther-mo-stat!

Last year my green friend gave me 2 milkweed plants which the monarch butterflies loved and devoured!   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.  Milkweed plants are self-sowing so with the 2 plants from last year and 5 this year I should be well on my way to a large butterfly garden and helping to reverse the decline of the monarch butterfly population!

Milkweed Plant
Photo: Stan Shebs

So why the declining butterfly population you ask? With stronger and more toxic chemicals added to pesticides and lawn fertilizers milkweed fields have been disappearing from our landscapes, most importantly in the Midwest, as agricultural cornfield areas have increased their use of GM (genetically modified) corn seeds and herbicides to intentionally kill milkweed.  Also, 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 so the lawn services rid their yards of these beneficial plants. Other thoughts on the declining population include climate change, increased use of genetically modified plant seeds/plants use and illegal logging and deforestation in Mexico.

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 Butterfly
Photo: Wikipedia

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. 

My green friend knows I love butterflies and am very concerned about the declining population of monarch butterflies so 5 milkweed plants will be a great addition to my front and backyards!  Have you planted any milkweed plants or do you plan to plant some in 2016?  Share your story in the comments.

If, by chance, this is the first post you have read of my rendition for the Twelve Days of Christmas and you can’t figure out what the heck I am writing about or why I’m writing about the Twelve Days after Christmas, click here to read how all this started.  I hope you join me tomorrow for the Sixth Day of a Green Christmas!

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