Climate change could make a showy invasive milkweed called a bloodflower even more of a menace for monarch butterflies than it already is.
Monarch caterpillars, which feed on plants in the milkweed family, readily feast on Asclepias curassavica. Gardeners in the southern United States plant it for its showy orange blooms, yet the species “is turning out to be a bit of a nightmare,” says Mark Hunter of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Monarchs (Danaus plexippus) migrating south to Mexico in the fall come across bloodflower bonanzas and don’t bother to keep on flying. Full migration normally prevents a harmful Ophryocistis parasite from building up in the insect population. Cutting the cycle short lets infection flourish.
In experiments, bloodflowers grown…
Latest posts by Marcela (see all)
- Here’s what was surprising about Kilauea’s 3-month-long eruption - December 12, 2018
- Nearly 200 Great Barrier Reef coral species also live in the deep sea - December 12, 2018
- The Fish in the Stone: Zoë Keating Reads Rita Dove’s Ode to Deep Time - December 11, 2018
More from Around the Web