Just one really neat sight I saw this weekend was the monarch sipping nectar from the milkweed (Asclepias syriaca). Milkweed is the host plant for the monarch butterflies which serves a very important role in the life of the fluttering favorites of backyard butterflies. Milkweed contains a chemical called glycosides which get consumed by the monarch caterpillars (see more here on milkweed). When they grow up this chemical makes the butterflies poisonous to birds and other predators - essentially the milkweed plant becomes a natural defense mechanism.
This milkweed was not on the slope of my wild area but at my wife's parent's house on the outskirts of their woodland. Once the flowers turn into seed pods I'll collect them to plant in our natural areas and try to help these magnificent monarchs along!
Labels: Insects and spiders, native plants