Through our Tropical Milkweed Trade-Out Program, we are growing narrow-leaf milkweed with 4th graders at several elementary schools in Marin County. The Salmon Protection And Watershed Network (SPAWN) supplies milkweed seeds and all supplies that the students need to grow the milkweed. With visits to partner schools throughout the months January or February and sowing the seeds with the 4th graders, the students care for the plants until the end of the school year.
As just one example, Glenwood Elementary School students propagated more than 300 milkweed seedlings this year! Their milkweed will be planted in a marsh that is behind the school this winter.
Audrey Fusco, the Native Plant Nursery Manager and Restoration Ecologist for SPAWN, as well as other staff and volunteers, help care for the plants over the summer. This year, in addition to the milkweed, we received about 70 caterpillars on the plants!
We were able to watch the caterpillars grow on our own milkweed patch in the pollinator garden. We observed the process of metamorphosis and many of the adult monarchs continued to live at the nursery, mated and laid eggs on the same milkweed that they lived on as caterpillars. Now a second generation of caterpillars are moving on to the next stage in their life cycle.
Hopefully, a few of these adults stay around and perhaps we’ll even be fortunate enough to see another generation grow up before it is time for the monarchs to migrate to their coastal overwintering grounds.
Below you can see a video of some of the process!