It seems people are at last starting to appreciate the humble milkweed plant.
This is the weed that Monsanto has managed to wipe out almost to extinction, with its potent herbicide mix that farmers now use to control any weeds that might occur in the fields.
Then strange things started happening. Things that had never happened before. Among a host of others there are three incredibly threatening environmental problems that have been steadily worsening over the last decade or so.
- The loss of honey bees
- Decline of the Monarch butterflies
- Oil spills
The honey bees are going through a massive reduction with deaths and hive collapse never seen before. This is truly frightening, because without honey bees humans stand no chance of survival in the future. One of their very favorite flowers is the milkweed blossom.
Two years ago I wandered along beautiful Point Pelee in Ontario. The locals told me about the huge Monarch migration that used to happen, when you couldn't see the trees for the butterflies hanging from them. They had seen few that year, they said. I walked along a narrow pathway, and suddenly there was the beach at the point, with its backdrop of trees.
There was something else too...butterflies swarming around! It was amazing. I stared at them in awed wonder. I couldn't pull myself away. They hung silently, covering the trees. They flew in front of me, all around me. But the locals were right. There has been a 44% drop in their numbers.
Now it seems the answer to these environmental problems was staring us in the face. The humble milkweed is hugely important to honey bees and the Monarch butterfly. Without it they cannot survive!
First annual Monarch Butterfly Day offers help to a declining butterfly population
Oil spill news
Nothing is better for this purpose!
François Simard, creator of Protec-Style, has a contract with Parks Canada to supply national parks with oil-spill kits. The kits come with various sizes of absorbent tubes filled with milkweed fibre from the seed pods.
Milkweed touted as oil-spill super-sucker — with butterfly benefits
There are now hundreds of farmers in Quebec growing many acres of milkweed, the life giving weed that we all need. I can't wait to see if it will bring back our butterflies and bees! Also milkweed is being planted in playgrounds, ditches and unused land that flanks railway tracks. You have to grow the right milkweed for your area. I've ordered mine ( the showy orange milkweed) from a local supplier.
Do you think you might enter into growing some milkweed?
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Wishing you a safe and beautiful weekend,