The Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative is asking residents for help in the seventh year of collecting milkweed pods, according to the Summit Soil and Water Conservation District.
The project started in 2015 as a pilot project in seven counties. Since the first year, volunteers have collected approximately 5,000 gallons of common milkweed pods, totaling over 22 million seeds.
Milkweed is the monarch butterfly’s only host plant for laying eggs and rearing caterpillars. It also serves as a food source for monarch butterflies, as well as many other species of pollinators.
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The disappearance of milkweed in the United States has contributed to an 80% decline in the eastern monarch butterfly population over the past 20 years, the district said.
The district offered several tips:∙
- Before collecting seeds, familiarize yourself with common milkweed to avoid harvesting the pods of similar plants, such as hemp dogbane.
- It is best to harvest the pods when they are dry, gray or brown. If the center seam appears with light pressure, the seeds can be harvested.
- Store the pods in paper bags because plastic bags collect unwanted moisture. Put the date and county collected on the bag before putting it back. Store the pods in a cool, dry place until delivered to the nearest collection site.
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The collection begins on Monday and ends on November 15. The collection site for Summit County is at The Ohio State University Extension Office, 440 Vernon Odom Blvd., Akron.
For questions about seed collecting in Summit County, call the Summit Soil and Water Conservation District at 330-926-2452 or email Sandy Barbic at [email protected] For questions about the statewide milkweed collection program, email Marci Lininger at [email protected] For more information on milkweed, visit u.osu.edu/beelab/milkweed-seed.