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 monarchbutterflygarden.net Tony runs the website and he has great, level headed approach to all things Monarch.
And tell your nursery Its👏about👏time👏🙄😂🤣