Monday, March 8, 2010

Tuesdays' Show and Tail - Of Caterpillars and Milkweeds

It's time for Tuesdays' Show & Tail'! Please visit our host, Angela, at West Virginia Treasures! If you have a cute story and picture of a pet, or any furry (or non-furry) friend, you are welcome to join in! Check her blog for the rules, post away - and thanks, Angela, for being a great hostess!

You won't see one of these blooming around here right now! Michigan is the Winter Wonderland! But, have you seen a milkweed plant up close and personal? Do their blossoms have a scent? Can they planted in gardens? Where can they be found? Do you know anywhere to find a patch of them growing, undisturbed by man, and what sort of creatures find them useful?

If you have not taken time to notice the individuality of weeds and plants in their native habitat before, surely your parents or grandparents have. When thinking about life in general, I am increasingly of the belief that every successive generation is more and more removed from wildlife, nature, and the ways of life taken for granted by our elders. Parents used to take the children out to do chores, picking native plants to use in potions for healing, berries for jams, mushrooms for meals. How many of us know which plants are safe to consume, what plants can be used to get rid of a rash or a headache? What roots can be used to make teas or beverages? Many good sources of information have passed away without revealing their secrets to us...information that can only be found in a book, IF we're lucky.
Did you know that as gentle sounding as the word milkweed is, the sticky "milk" inside this plant is what protects the monarch caterpillar and gives its disagreeable taste if some birdie were to pierce its flesh? The plant itself is toxic to some livestock if ingested when it is less than 2 foot in height. And the "milk" is hazardous to humans if accidentally brushed into the eyes or other sensitive areas; it can cause vision damage if not handled properly.

When I went out to play as a child, there were some wild places that I loved to spend an afternoon in. One area was just a few blocks from our house, it had mounds of gravel with fossils in it, and surrounding the gravel mounds were small patches of ground with milkweeds growing. I learned some things about milkweeds simply through observance; the seed pods contained spun silk feathers which could carry the attached flat oval seeds far away as the winds blew.... the stalks were tough to break off, and often you could see orange aphids on them, consuming juices for survival...
... monarch butterflies seemed drawn to the plants, and certain times of the year one could find striped caterpillars feasting on the leaves. If I was lucky, I would find a chrysalis hanging, delicate green in color, touched with dots of metallic gold! When I took it home in a vented jar, I knew that in a short few weeks, a lovely fairy princess would emerge, its "castle" turning dark brown, then black, as the breath-taking creature fluttered its wings to dry them, making ready to sail away!
Kids today spend entirely too much time indoors playing video games, plugged into Ipods, learning about nature only in classrooms far removed from the subjects taught about in biology or science. Take your kids and grandkids to the great outdoors, where they can see some of the wonders nature has to offer IN PERSON, not on Animal Planet or public television. Children should not need an electronic device to entertain them on family drives or trips to town in a car - let them look out the windows and see the landscape filled with ponds, blue skies, dry fields, cattle, or wild turkey. See who can spot the first deer or hawk. Experience nature yourself. The cost is less than going to the movies for sure, less than a computer "app". And its a great stress reliever! Good for the Soul!
Click on the picture of the "Striped Cat" below to be instantly transported to wonderful information about Milkweeds! you may find out some things you were never aware of before!

Have a Wonderous Day!


Angela said...

Hey Monica!

We have lots of milkweeds around where we live! The cotton pods are a novelty at school when the teacher has them to bring in something from nature like leaves and the such. My husband has even had friends from work to request him to bring some in for their kids to take to school! lol

And it is funny you would do a post about butterflies! I seen my first butterfly of the year today! It was a black one and pretty big too!

Great post today and full of information!

Tuesdays' Show & Tail!

ocmist said...

We, too, have a lot of milkweeds in this area, and I SO AGREE with you on SO MANY of your points today! It is interesting that our minds sort of ran along some of the same lines in our posts this week.

I've been studying a lot of the plants and things that they were used for, for a few years now. The info can really be fascinating!

Sherrie said...

Great post with lots of info. Thanks for sharing. I haven't seen a milkweed around here for years. I used to play with them when I was a kid. The flowers are beautiful. I totally agree about kids spending too much time inside now a days. Have a great day!

A View of My Life

Michelle said...

I agree that kids need to get out more, there is too much electronics in their lives these days! I appreciate all the great information! Thanks!