Frayed Milkweed: WPC
The milkweed gets its name from the seed pods that look like the horns of an antelope. Its scientific name is Asclepias asperula.
At the end of summer or fall, pods turn brown, then burst open to let out fluffy seeds.
The leaves of milkweeds are the primary food source for the Monarch caterpillar and the flowers provide a nectar source for the adult butterfly that has a high glucose content. Monarch Butterflies, Milkweed Bugs, and Milkweed Leaf Beetles only eat weed, can not survive without it.
- The sticky, milky sap in the stems and leaves contains poisonous cardiac glycosides. But it’s this very toxicity that makes antelope horns and other species of milkweed important host plants for monarch butterflies. Monarch caterpillars are immune to the poison, which they absorb as they feed on milkweeds, making the insects unpalatable and poisonous to predators.
- In Texas, milkweeds are crucial to monarch survival because they are host plants for migrating generations coming up in the spring from wintering grounds in Mexico. Unlike the generation before them, which made a one-generation journey south, successive generations make the journey north, and most of the first new generation starts in Texas.
More WPC Fray entries: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/fray/