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Attracting Monarchs in the City

The monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) population has been declining precipitously, in large part because the milkweed plants that the monarch caterpillars feed on are being destroyed. A number of organizations have encouraged the public to grow milkweed in their yards to offset some of this destruction.

On a November’s day walk through a Southborough field, we collected a few milkweed pods that hadn’t yet released their seeds. I separated the seeds from the cotton and placed the seeds in the refrigerator for a few months.

In mid-March, I removed the seeds and soaked them in warm water, planting them in a biodegradable tray. It took a while for the seeds to sprout. Perhaps they were waiting for warmer temperatures (our house is rather cool during the winter). The seedlings were up by May and I planted them outdoors on May 6.
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