Due to the drastic decline in the population of the Monarch butterfly, the Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative (OPHI) is seeking public involvement to collect and drop off common and swamp milkweed seed pods from established plants, Sept.1 through Oct. 30 at collection stations around the state. The seeds will be used to establish new plantings and create additional habitat for the Monarch butterfly throughout Ohio in the coming years.
“Common and swamp milkweed is essential to the survival of Monarch Butterflies in Ohio,” said Marci Lininger, biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Ohio is a priority area for Monarchs. This generation of Monarchs are also responsible for starting the life cycle all over again in the spring, and laying the following year’s first generation of Monarchs in late summer.”
“Most Ohio counties have a Milkweed Pod Collection Station – most of them being located at the local Soil and Water Conservation District office,” said Lori Stevenson, Ohio Private Lands coordinator with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In Carroll County, milkweed seed pods can be dropped off at the Carroll Soil and Water Conservation District, located at 613 N. High Street, Carrollton. Office hours are 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Seed pods from common or swamp milkweed should be collected when the pods are dry and gray or brown in color. If the center seam pops with gentle pressure, they can be picked. It is best to collect pods into paper bags or paper grocery sacks. Avoid using plastic bags because they can attract moisture and allow mold to develop. Store seeds in a cool, dry area until you can deliver to the closest pod collection area. It is recommended to wear disposable gloves when picking and handling pods. Harvesting seed pods from milkweed plants will not have any effect on the population of milkweed in established areas.
OPHI was formed in response to the 2014 petition to list the Monarch butterfly as federally endangered. Its partners include state of Ohio agencies, universities, corporations, and non-profit organizations.
For more information on OPHI or the seed pod collection, contact Carroll SWCD at 330-627-9852 or OPHI at (614) 416-8993.