Butterfly Weed

Butterflyweed Wildflowers at Raccoon Creek State Park

Butterfly Weed draws you to. You stand there impressed by it’s richness of color. Also known as Orange Milkweed, this deep reddish-orange wildflower is several weeks away from bloom time.

Never super abundant, they are usually seen in small groupings, they seem to require certain favorable habitat conditions.

Their flowers remain open for several days, but when they open they must pump nectar because…

Tiger Swallowtails visit, Great Spangled Fritillaries dive in, Silver (White) Spotted Skippers come, Monarchs abound, Hawkmoths (Sphinx moths) zoom in, and the lovely and hardly seen Coral Hairstreaks fanatically feed…..

Asclepias tuberosa also provides nutrition to Monarch caterpillars. Our Monarch posts discuss how these Asclepias plants cause the Monarch caterpillars to be avoided by predators. Imagine being 100% protected from mischief makers?

We only photograph in the morning, because the light is best then, the heat of the day is hours away and because there is little expectation of being disturbed by hikers and others. Butterfly Weed flowers, it is my experience, do not ‘pump’ nectar until about 9-ish AM and apparently cease pumping before 10:45 AM. After then, I’ve observed that there is a dramatic drop-off of butterfly visitors. I do not yet understand how this occurs.

Nurseries and garden centers offer hybridized Butterfly Weed. I have not had good results with them. I think that their soil requirements are specific, and even so when they’ve accepted my garden, they do not attract butterflies.

Jeffrey