Butterflies are among the most beautiful and delicate of God’s creatures. I love to see them flit through the air on their wings of gossamer.
I would love to see more of them than I do. I don’t have my own home yet, so I can’t plant my own butterfly garden.
But I can do some things to attract them. I can have plants that I know they like in planters outside.
Well, today we planted some unusual plants that a special butterfly lays its eggs on. These plants are considered weeds by most people, and they are getting more rare because of weed killers, thus endangering the butterflies whose caterpillars subsist on them.
If you haven’t guessed yet, the plants that we planted today are milkweeds.
The butterfly that lays its eggs on the milkweed is the Monarch butterfly. I really love Monarchs.
I went out looking for Monarch caterpillars the other day, but I didn’t find one. I did find a milkweed, and on that milkweed was a big, fat seed pod. So I brought the seed pod home to show my kids. We didn’t have that kind of milkweed in Illinois. But this pod was like the ones I saw as a child growing up in Ohio.
I didn’t have any real plans for this pod – just thought I would show it to my kids.
As time went on, they kept asking me about it, and I could tell they wanted to tear that thing open. I thought, “Hmmm, that might not be a bad idea. Let them see what’s inside.” See what a brilliant teacher I am! 😛 It’s a good thing I have such bright students. They keep us on the learning path.
So today we split it open and saw beautiful, orderly rows of seeds all tightly wrapped around a feathery center. I had never before noticed how orderly and systematically they were arranged inside of a milkweed pod. Or if I did, I had forgotten.
We started peeling a few of them off and noticed how the straight smooth feathery pieces became fluffy and curled as they dried out. The better to fly on the breeze with, my dear.
And the seeds were attached to these little feathers.
So then I had the brilliant idea of letting the kids take the seeds outside and let them fly. And we would plant some in our garden, too. We probably won’t be here to see them grow. And the next person to live here may not appreciate milkweed growing up through their patio, but we’re doing our part to try to replenish the food plant of the Monarch butterfly caterpillars.
We’re hoping for a good crop of Monarch butterflies!
The kids had so much fun!
Examining the pod and the seeds
Then each of them took some “feathers” with seeds on them.
And held them up and let them go. Off to hopefully plant themselves somewhere that would be hospitable to milkweeds.
Then my children flew and twirled and spun and danced and ran in the breeze like newborn butterflies fresh from the chrysalis.
Planting Milkweed Seeds from Penney Douglas on Vimeo.
P. S. Just don’t tell my neighbors what we did.
P. P. S. At least we didn’t plant dandelion seeds. Oh yeah, I guess my kids have done that. Many times.
[…] Oh, by the way, these are Monarch caterpillars, of course. The milkweed here is huge. That’s why I had such a nice juicy pod to plant seeds from. […]