Monarch Butterfly at Longview Center

This Monarch butterfly is pictured here at Longview center in Mansfield.

MANSFIELD -- Richland Soil and Water Conservation District (Richland SWCD) is partnering again with the Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative (OPHI) to collect common milkweed seed pods to help foster habitats for Monarch butterflies.

Milkweed seed pods are starting to mature to the point where they can be harvested. Start scouting fields and if pods appear slightly gray and are dried out they are ready to pick.

Seeds inside should be brown before harvesting. Last year's massive statewide seed collection effort was spearheaded by the Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative (OPHI), which is working to get the word out about why monarch butterflies are disappearing and help partners create monarch habitat.

The disappearance of milkweed, the only host plant for monarch caterpillars, across the U.S. has contributed to the 80-percent decline of the eastern monarch butterfly population over the last 20 years: http://ow.ly/ncwE30fwsKC.

If you wish to help with this project, drop off collected milkweed seed pods until Nov. 7 in the green and yellow container located outside the Richland SWCD office at 1495 W. Longview Avenue, Mansfield.

Here are a few additional reminders when collecting Milkweed Seed Pods:

* Become familiar with common milkweed to avoid harvesting pods from similar plants such as hemp dogbane and swamp milkweed.

* 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.

* 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 RichlandSWCD 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 and returned to Richland SWCD in the spring to be distributed for planting. Richland SWCD gave away over 100 milkweed seed packets with planting instructions this year.

If you have questions about collecting milkweed seed pods or other Richland SWCD programs, please call 419-747-8686 or go to https://richlandswcd.net/.

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