Time to collect milkweed seed

Photo courtesy of Laura Columbus
Harvest and Storage of Milkweed Seeds

From Monarch Watch   "The timing of the collection of milkweed pods or seeds is critical. Mature pods are those that are within a day or two of opening.  If you squeeze the pods and they don’t open easily, they usually do not contain mature brown seeds.  Seeds well into the process of browning and hardening will germinate when planted the next season. Pale or white seeds should be not collected.

Photo courtesy of Laura Columbus
Freshly collected pods should be dried in an open area with good air circulation. Once the pods are thoroughly dry, the seeds can be separated from the coma, or silk-like ballooning material, by hand. Separation of seeds can also be accomplished by stripping the seeds and coma from the pods into a paper bag. Shake the contents of the bag vigorously to separate the seeds from the coma and then cut a small hole in a corner of the bottom of the bag and shake out the seeds.

Store dried seeds in a cool, dry place protected from mice and insects - a plastic bag (re-closable) or other container in the refrigerator works well."

Helpful links
Collecting and Harvesting Common Milkweed, Asclepias syriaca, seeds
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fhjkC1Mbzlg (Mona L. Miller video)

Here is a link to many videos about collecting milkweed seeds.

How to harvest milkweed seeds

Monarch Joint Venture - scroll down to "Tips for Hand Harvesting"

Scroll half-way down this page to see “Gathering Milkweed Seeds”

Plant in the fall!
Late October through November is the time to plant seeds in the fall.

If you save the seeds until spring they will first need to be "stratified" or cold-treated.

You can find out more by running searches on how to plant milkweed.  Check out this link from the Pollination Station to get started.  http://www.pollinationstation.org/planting-instructions.html


A very successful event

Photo courtesy of Richard Sjolund.. Click on the photo to enlarge it.
Thank you to all who attended our event.  

We were stunned and pleased with the turnout!

There were about 180 people in attendance at the Monarchs in Eastern Iowa (MEI) event, "The Great Migration: Monarch Tag and Release" held the afternoon of September 6th in the Thomas Commons building at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa.  

Presenters were MEI members Andria Cossolotto, talking about the history of tagging; Patty Ankrum, with photos from her trip to the wintering grounds for Monarch butterflies in Mexico; and Gordon Lavergne who demonstrated how to tag and log data for the Monarch Watch organization.

Monarchs awaiting release.
Click to enlarge.
Photo by William Hosford
Members of the MEI group brought many containers holding about 225 Monarch butterflies they had raised in their homes from eggs or caterpillars they gathered from milkweed plants.  MEI has such a dedicated and caring group of people raising Monarchs!  Thank you to each and every one of you!

After his demonstration, Lavergne led the crowd out to a nearby patio and orchestrated a mass release of butterflies, much to the delight of the on-lookers, many of them children.  

These butterflies will be part of the great migration of Monarch butterflies from Canada and the United States to Mexico's Central Highlands, where they spend the winter before returning north in the spring of 2016.

On hand to record the event was local television KGAN-CBS2. Thanks for sharing our story!

MEI member, Patty Ankrum with the Facebook team.
Photo courtesy of William Hosford.
In addition, a team from Facebook had flown in from the west coast earlier in the day specifically to film and develop a story for "Facebook Stories", showcasing our group.

The story about MEI will appear in a few weeks and we are delighted that the Facebook story will expand awareness about the plight of the Monarch.  Thank you Facebook!

And finally, thank you to Cornell College Cole Library for coordinating with us and sponsoring our event.  

It's hard to catch butterflies in flight in a photo, but Jim Langhus did a pretty good job capturing some of the hundreds of tagged Monarchs released on the patio of the Thomas Commons building at Cornell College on September 6, 2015.  Everyone held one butterfly up in their hand and released them all at once accompanied by laughter, ooo's and ah's!  (Click the photo to enlarge it.)