MANSFIELD — One sign of autumn is the colors on tree leaves are beginning to change into hues of red, orange, and gold. What a beautiful time of year to be outside and enjoy nature.
Another sign of fall is seeing milkweed seed pods starting to dry out in preparation of being harvested.
Milkweed is the only host plant of Monarch butterflies, meaning it’s the only plant Monarch butterflies will lay eggs on and the only plant monarch caterpillars will eat. Milkweed also provides a food source for many other pollinators.
The Monarch butterfly population continues to decline and one of the reasons for that decline is the lack of milkweed.
An easy way to help monarch butterflies is to provide a habitat for them by collecting the seed pods and planting the seeds.
If you don’t have space to plant the seeds, simply collect the milkweed seed pods and drop them off at Richland Soil and Water Conservation District (Richland SWCD).
Each year the district partners with the Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative (OPHI) and county citizens to collect Common Milkweed seed pods to help foster habitats for Monarch butterflies.
OPHI spearheads the collection each year and they work to get the word out about why Monarch butterflies are disappearing and help partners create Monarch habitat.
Last year Richland County collected over 165 gallons of milkweed seed pods.
Drop your milkweed seed pods of by Nov. 7 in the green and yellow container placed outside the Richland SWCD office located at 1495 W. Longview Avenue, Suite 205 B, Mansfield.
Here are a few tips on how to collect Common Milkweed seed pods:
- Become familiar with common milkweed to avoid harvesting pods from similar plants such as hemp dogbane and swamp milkweed.
- Pods will appear slightly gray, begin to dry, and have brown seeds inside.
- If the center seam of the pod pops with gentle pressure, they can be picked.
- Don’t collect pods that are already open, as they might be infested with insects.
- Place collected pods in paper bags or paper grocery sacks. Plastic bags collect unwanted moisture and lead to pods molding.
- On the bag, please write the date you collected the pods and the county you collected them from.
- Keep the pods in a cool, dry area until you can deliver them to the Richland SWCD office.
- Only collect from your property or property you have been given permission to go on; do not trespass.
During the winter, seeds from this year’s milkweed seed pod collection will be removed from the pods to be distributed for planting next year.
If you want free milkweed seeds with planting instructions, you may pick them up from the hallway table found outside the Richland SWCD office.
If you have questions about collecting milkweed seed pods or other Richland SWCD programs, please call 419-747-8685 or go to https://richlandswcd.net/residential/programs/.
Richland SWCD develops, implements, and assists landowners, government agencies and our partners with a wide range of natural resource conservation programs.
Programs and assistance of Richland SWCD are available without regard to race, color, religion, sex, gender identity, age, national origin, ancestry, disability, or veteran status.