Green Gold Could Mean The End of The Monarchs

In Mexico, monarchs versus avocado farming

This article is now 2 years old. In the last week, 2 Mexican Butterfly Conservationists have been murdered.….for land to grow avocados.

Linked by Michael Levenston

A dying butterfly at the monarch butterfly reserve in Piedra Herrada, Mexico. Without trees to provide thermal cover and roosting sites, the butterflies can freeze to death. Associated Press/Rebecca Blackwell

Avocados are much more lucrative than almost any other legal crop Mexican farmers can grow, and many landholders appear to be turning to avocados, legally or illegally.

By Mark Stevenson
Associated Press
Feb 21, 2018

Mexican environmental inspectors said Wednesday that they found 7.4 acres of illegal avocado plantations in the Monarch butterfly wintering grounds west of Mexico City.

It’s apparently the first time that a wave of avocado planting has directly affected the heart of the Monarch area, a protected nature reserve.

Monarch butterflies migrate from the U.S. and Canada to pine and fir forests that thrive at about the same altitude as prime avocado-growing land.

Previously, deforestation linked to lucrative avocado planting had been seen in areas to the west and south of the reserve.

But on Wednesday the environmental protection office said one man had been arrested for weapons possession at the site. In April, police found that a 91-acre swath of pine trees had been cut down in the nature reserve of Valle de Bravo, a bit east of the butterfly reserve, to plant avocado trees.

I Had NO Idea… Butterfly pea (Clitoria Ternatea)

I have been in love with this vine ever since it started rapidly covering an ugly fence years ago. I never knew it had medicinal uses….a tea can be made from the flowers and it has been used for centuries as an organic, natural dye. Soak the gorgeous flowers in hot water overnight and you have a beautiful shade of blue….add a squeeze of citrus and the liquid turns a royal shade of purple. It has been used to dye cloth and food….you can make Blue Rice😋. It is also used in desserts for the rich hues of blue and purple🤩

In the video below, he makes an AWESOME Bonsai tree

You don’t need words…just watch until the end to see the finished Bonsai.

Never Give Up

Yesterday we were transplanting and clearing out “dead” pots….THIS is a perfect example of why you should never give up on your native milkweeds. Nothing was showing above the soil, all of this was underground. Check out the size of the tap root and the baby sprout reaching for the sun. This happens ALL the time when clearing out what look like dead plants…we careful transplant them into larger containers and put them aside for Spring…I also found some large containers in various hiding places after being tossed aside and sure enough….there were tiny milkweeds popping up. Neglect would be an understatement…completely left on there own now for months….they are now making a comeback. Plant native milkweed 🤗🐛🦋

Over Watering Plants…We Have All Done It.

I am guilty of it myself. The first year growing Native milkweeds, we seriously over watered and lost about half of them. Now, I wait until the leaves are drooping no matter how dry the soil appears to be….the truth lies below the surface. I realized it is IMPOSSIBLE to simply look at the plant and determine if it needs water or not. The plant will let you know if you know to look for.

Wet and Wilting
1. It looks wilted, but the soil is wet. If your plant is green, well-watered and still struggling, you may have over watered. This is the easiest sign that your plant has had a little too much water. To prevent yourself from making this mistake again, only water your plants when the soil is dry to the touch. This little tip will keep you aware of plants that are in need of a good bath, and away from those who are full.

Brown Leaves
2. If the leaves turn brown and wilt, there is the possibility that you have been overwatering. At this point it may be difficult to tell whether a plant is wilting because of poor health, or improper water levels. Often, gardeners react quickly and throw on an extra pour or two of water in the hopes that the leaves will perk up. Before doing this, be sure to check your soil to see if it is wet. This doesn’t mean eyeing the top layer to see if it looks dry. Take and finger and place it into the soil at a point somewhere near the plant’s base. If the soil still feels dry, it may need water. Be sure to not let the fear of watering send you over the edge.

3. The third sign that your plant has been overwatered is edema. If a plant has absorbed more water than it needs, it can cause the plant’s cells to expand and stress. Often, these cells are filled to the point of rupturing. You can check for signs of burst cells by noticing any blisters or lesions on the plant. Eventually, these lesions will turn to dark or even white scar tissue. Another sign of edema is indentations on the top of leaves.

Yellow Falling Leaves
4. If you happen to have both yellowing leaves and new growth falling from your plant, there is a good chance you are overwatering. Try and remember if you have only watered your plant when the soil was dry.

Root Rot
5. Not only does the plant show signs of overwatering in its leaves and flowers, but the roots can also be an indication. When the soil is dense with water, it can limit the ability of the roots to breathe, they will then drown and begin to rot. Plant root rot is a fungal disease that will cause the roots to turn grey, brown or slimy and will eventually cause the plant to wilt. If a plant has root rot it is best to remove it from any garden bed so it cannot spread the disease.

Thank you Teleflora for the great info

Swallowtail Butterflies

  • Black Swallowtail
  • Giant Swallowtail host Plant is Citrus
  • Black Swallowtail

The Black Swallowtail caterpillars were found on curly Parsley. 4 cocooned outside and stealthy emerged when no one was looking. The one in the picture sat in its cocoon FOREVER…..I had almost given up hope and was inspecting the cocoon when…IT WIGGLED! A sure sign of life! It emerged the next day and I was able to witness the pumping up of the wings. Black Swallowtails use members of the carrot family (Apiaceae) including parsley, fennel, dill, Queen Anne’s Lace, and carrots. There are actually 82 species of Apiacae. We are adding host plants for both of these gorgeous creatures to our Etsy listings.

Wild Lime seems to be a hands down favorite for Giant Swallowtails in South Florida. My only regret is that I could not get more pictures before it flew away. The underneath of the butterfly is a gorgeous buttercup yellow with spots of blue and red/orange. I went out for about an hour and came back to the Giant Swallowtail gliding around the room….it must have emerged and I did not notice before I left because it was ready to go when I got back and was not in the mood for a photo shoot. This morning I found 2 caterpillars on the Wild Lime so more pictures will be posted of the caterpillars and the Butterflies that emerge.

OE and Tropical Milkweed

I had a customer ask me about OE and Tropical Milkweed…her local nursery has stopped carrying Tropical and is only stocking a native. I say…..It’s about time!

I think it is awesome the nursery is carrying Native Milkweeds (finally).
The Protozoa is OE. It is carried by Monarchs, not the milkweed. The spores end up on the milkweed when an infected butterfly lands on the milkweed, lays eggs with spores, and generally drops spores from her abdomen as she flutters around.
The Tropical is only a problem because it is evergreen in mild climates. It will not survive freezing temperatures. Native milkweeds die back in the winter, returning in the spring where it freezes.
Heavy infected butterflies don’t survive, most don’t make it out of the chrysalis, messed up wings, can’t fly…certainly won’t reproduce.
A lightly infected butterfly lays eggs…those eggs have a spore on them, first thing a caterpillar eats is the egg. Infected at birth…how infected will it get? Don’t know…can it be lightly infected and cocoon and then fly away? Apparently so, because the populations of Monarchs that don’t migrate all have some level of OE. California, Florida, Texas… one of the reasons why we do not let South Florida Monarchs touch the milkweed we sell…it is all under cover.
Now….the report claiming OE is caused by Tropical milkweed first appears in a “scientific” magazine in early 2000’s. The Monarchs migration numbers were seriously down.
Due to Tropical milkweed? No, due to pesticides (round up hit the market) and development.
I almost stopped selling the Tropical a couple of years ago after I read that article….then I REALLY researched the issue. 
So, it is my opinion that without the Tropical milkweed the Monarch migration was in serious trouble. Native milkweeds do not grow NEARLY as fast as the Tropical and with no milkweed, no monarchs…Tropical is also been growing wild in Florida and Texas forever…it’s considered native in Mexico. 
The idea that the Tropical will keep Monarchs from migration I believe is hogwash…or they would never leave Mexico where tropical milkweed is abundant. 
With all that being said…I am all for planting the natives. I have tried many times to get nurseries here to grow and sell it…they decline (better for my pocket 😂) and they sell the tropical. Some swamp and Aquatic shows up but not like it should. Hopefully in the next few years nurseries get the natives growing for people to purchase but because you can’t use pesticide and the butterflies will lay eggs and devastate the milkweed before it gets to market if not covered, it may just be a niche market where people like me are focusing on growing milkweed.
As you see, I could go on FOREVER about this.
The solution? Simply cut back your tropical milkweed stems after the caterpillars eat all the leaves. Cut it back to a couple of inches above the ground and all the growth will be new growth, no chance of spores.
Check out Tony runs the website and he has great, level headed approach to all things Monarch.
And tell your nursery Its👏about👏time👏🙄😂🤣