I Love Milkweed!

We have sixteen species of milkweed here in Iowa. Some are quite rare and are a special treat to find. Common milkweed, Asclepias syriaca is not rare, and is found in a lot of our degraded habitats. It often grows in large clusters. Common milkweed is in full bloom right now. The flowers are pretty–found in round clusters coming off the stems of the plant. If you get close to them, and especially where a number of plants are concentrated you will detect an intoxicating sweet magical odor from the flowers.

Monarch butterflies use common milkweed as caterpillar host plants, so people often associate milkweeds with monarchs. But milkweed flowers are very attractive to all kinds of butterflies, and to pollinators of all kinds. A photographer who finds common milkweed near any kind of good habitat can have a field day taking closeup pictures.

On the left, hovering next to the flower is a snowberry clearwing moth. A milkweed longhorn beetle can be seen on the stem.

The two-spotted skipper (the tan butterfly with the white belly) is quite rare here, and was found at a state park in Warren County. The darker one is a dun skipper, I think, although there are at least two other species that are similar enough that it could be one of them.

This bee fly remained in flight the entire time I watched it, although it hovers so well that I could get several photographs.

I don’t see mourning cloaks all that often, and when I see them they are usually not on flowers. This was quite a treat.

For the next week or so you might find me wading in the tall weeds next to the milkweed. If you look close, you will probably also see a goofy grin on my face.


About the roused bear

Nature photographer from central Iowa.
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