Q. I've been thinking about growing milkweed plants to help in the Monarch butterfly fight. Any thoughts?
A. I agree with you wholeheartedly on encouraging our local populations of butterflies and moths. They add a lot of beauty and grace to our landscape and provide some pollination and act as a food supply.
|Butterflies can be pollinators|
To my knowledge the Monarch butterfly does not pass through southern Nevada in its migration. I understand there are two migration routes; one from the Eastern population and the other supports the Western population.
The Eastern population misses us completely in its migration routes to Mexico. The Western population is restricted for the most part by the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Instead of focusing just on milkweeds I think a diversity of plant material for attracting these insects might be important. I have posted some reading material on my blog regarding butterfly gardens.
Reducing or eliminating pesticide use in the butterfly garden area would be wise. There are a number of pesticides that are harmful including two that I recommend frequently to organic gardeners: Bt and Spinosad. When considering pollinators both of these insecticides can be lethal to butterflies.
Always apply pesticides, if they must be applied, at times when these creatures are not active. This means the very early morning hours. Many of our moths fly at night so I would avoid applying pesticides at dusk if a major concern are night flying moths.
I put together some links on general information on Monarch butterflies, moths and butterflies of southern Nevada and how to make a butterfly garden. I wish you much success.
Wikipedia on Monarch butterflies
Threats to Monarch butterflies
Map of Monarch routes
Butterflies of southern Nevada.
How to make a butterfly garden in the southwestern desert of the US