Collect milkweed for Monarchs

By Anna Smith - PSWCD Outreach Coordinator

PREBLE COUNTY — It’s that time again! Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative is calling on Ohioans to collect milkweed seed pods to help Monarch butterflies. Since the inception of the Milkweed Pod Collection program three years ago, volunteers have collected approximately 5,000 gallons of common milkweed seed pods, totaling over 22 million seeds.

Milkweed is the only host plant used by Monarch butterflies for egg laying and caterpillar rearing. Blooms on milkweed plants also serve as a food source for Monarchs and many other pollinator species. The disappearance of milkweed across the U.S. has contributed to the 80 percent decline of the eastern Monarch butterfly population over the last 20 years. Seeds collected through the milkweed pod collection will be used to establish new plantings across the state to benefit Monarchs and other pollinators.

Interested in helping? Here’s how: Make sure that before you collect seed, you become familiar with common milkweed to avoid harvesting pods from similar plants such as hemp dogbane and swamp milkweed. It is best to collect the pods when they are dry, grey, or brown. If the center seam pops with gentle pressure, they can be harvested. Store pods in paper bags, as plastic bags collect unwanted moisture. Write the date and county of collection on the bag, and store them in a cool, dry area.

Pods can be dropped off at the Preble Soil and Water Conservation District, located at 1651 N. Barron St., Eaton, located between TSC and China Wok. A collection bin is available now through Oct. 30, in the front lobby which is open 7 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The Preble Soil and Water Conservation District thanks everyone for their help. Call 937-456-5159 for additional information.

By Anna Smith

PSWCD Outreach Coordinator