Milkweed Pod Collection

Knox Soil and Water Conservation Districts is supporting another Statewide Milkweed Pod Collection this year. The collection will take place from September 1st thru October 30th.

During September and October everyone is encouraged to collect dried (brown) milkweed pods from established plants and drop them off at Knox SWCD office at 160 Columbus Road in Mount Vernon.

Please join us in our effort to replenish this important plant in Ohio by collecting milkweed pods in your area. Also, don’t forget to harvest seeds for yourself!

Milkweed….really??

Yes. Monarch Butterflies only lay their eggs on Milkweed plants which means they depend on Milkweed for survival. The adult butterflies lay their eggs on milkweed, the egg hatches, and the caterpillars will feed solely on milkweed. These caterpillars eat large amounts of milkweed and grow at rapid rates for their entire caterpillar cycle. Monarch Butterflies contribute to our local farmers by way of pollinating, therefore, putting food on the table. Collecting and planting milkweed will benefit the Monarch Butterflies because it is the plant needed for their survival.

Monarch populations have declined alarmingly in recent years, and have dropped to a fraction of its previous size. Development of rural lands and the use of mowing and herbicides have all reduced the abundance of naturally occurring milkweed plants. This has resulted in substantial loss of critical resources available for Monarchs and, therefore, aided in their drastic decline. Planting native milkweed species to help restore breeding habitat is critical.

Experts estimate that the eastern population of Monarchs has diminished by 90% over the past twenty years. This incredible downturn in numbers should serve as a red flag, and efforts should be made to correct the conditions. Collecting milkweed seed pods is one of the easiest ways you can make a difference and help protect this valuable pollinator.

 Tips for Collecting Seed Pods

  • When collecting seed pods from a milkweed plant only pick brown pods to insure the seeds are mature. Do not collect green pods as the seeds will not be mature and therefore, will not be able to germinate. Leave the green pods on the milkweed plant and wait for the pods to mature and turn brown before picking. If the center seam of the pod pops with gentle pressure, the seed pod is ready to be picked.
  • Be aware of the milkweed beetle around open seed pods. These beetles are orange and black and will damage the seeds making them nonviable. The beetle is not able to chew its way into the pods but will wait for the pod to open. A rubber band lightly wrapped around the pod will prevent the milkweed beetle entry to the seed pod. Cheesecloth or organza can also be used to surround the seed pods until they are mature.
  • It is best to collect pods in paper bags. Avoid using plastic bags because condensation will create mold and mildew which will ruin the seed pod. Store seeds in a cool, dry area until you can deliver to Knox SWCD.
  • Harvesting pods from milkweed plants does not have any effect on the population of milkweed in established areas.
  • All milkweed pods collected during this time will be processed by OPHI partners and all of the seed collected will be used to establish new plantings and create additional habitat for the Monarch Butterfly throughout Ohio.

ODA- Common Milkweed Handout

Knox County, Ohio