Milkweed Matters: Monarch Butterfly (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae) Survival and Development on Nine Midwestern Milkweed Species
V. M. Pocius, Diane M. Debinski, J. M. Pleasants, K. G. Bidne, R. L. Hellmich, L. P. Brower
Journal of Environmental Entomology
The population of monarch butterflies east of the Rocky Mountains has experienced a significant decline over the past 20 yr. In order to increase monarch numbers in the breeding range, habitat restoration that includes planting milkweed plants is essential. Milkweeds in the genus Asclepias and Cynanchum are the only host plants for larval monarch butterflies in North America, but larval performance and survival across nine milkweeds native to the Midwest is not well documented. We examined development and survival of monarchs from first-instar larval stages to adulthood on nine milkweed species native to Iowa. The milkweeds included Asclepias exaltata (poke milkweed) (Gentianales: Apocynaceae), Asclepias hirtella (tall green milkweed) (Gentianales: Apocynaceae), Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed) (Gentianales: Apocynaceae), Asclepias speciosa (showy milkweed) (Gentianales: Apocynaceae), Asclepias sullivantii (prairie milkweed) (Gentianales: Apocynaceae), Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed) (Gentianales: Apocynaceae), Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly milkweed) (Gentianales: Apocynaceae), Asclepias verticillata (whorled milkweed) (Gentianales: Apocynaceae), and Cynanchum laeve (honey vine milkweed) (Gentianales: Apocynaceae). In greenhouse experiments, fewer larvae that fed on Asclepias hirtella and Asclepias sullivantii reached adulthood compared with larvae that fed on the other milkweed species. Monarch pupal width and adult dry mass differed among milkweeds, but larval duration (days), pupal duration (days), pupal mass, pupal length, and adult wet mass were not significantly different. Both the absolute and relative adult lipids were different among milkweed treatments; these differences are not fully explained by differences in adult dry mass. Monarch butterflies can survive on all nine milkweed species, but the expected survival probability varied from 30 to 75% among the nine milkweed species.
How is this information collected?
This collection of Montana State authored publications is collected by the Library to highlight the achievements of Montana State researchers and more fully understand the research output of the University. They use a number of resources to pull together as complete a list as possible and understand that there may be publications that are missed. If you note the omission of a current publication or want to know more about the collection and display of this information email Leila Sterman.