Monday, July 6, 2009

Dogbane and Starvation

dogbane and milkweed
Monarch caterpillars need milkweed. The only plant they can eat and grow into healthy Monarch butterflies is milkweed.

dogbane and milkweed
There is one plant that resembles milkweed so much that people will cut it to feed to the caterpillars they are raising indoors. That plant is dogbane. The result is starvation. The caterpillars simply will not eat it.

In these photos, the plant on the left if dogbane; resembles milkweed but Monarch caterpillars will not eat it. It takes an experienced eye or an person who has learned in one manner or another to tell the two apart.

Many people have starved their caterpillars to death by giving them dogbane, thinking that they were giving them milkweed.

It started me wondering. Have I 'starved' myself by not feeding on the spiritual equivalent of a Monarch caterpillar's milkweed?

What should I feed upon? Have I left something out?

After going through surgery last week with instructions not to ride in a car for a certain amount of time, I wasn't able to go to church Sunday. Without mentioning it to me beforehand, my husband brought home communion for me. He did this years ago when I was unable to go to church back then for a few weeks.

No, I wouldn't have starved without it but I would have been a bit 'nutritionally' or 'spiritually deficient'.

How wonderful it is to have someone else make sure that I have what I need to eat. With the opportunity to take communion, it would be a serious issue for me and to me if I didn't. I'm thankful for Stephen for making sure I have communion while I can't attend church and partake of communion there.

I thank God for my husband. Tomorrow is our 36th anniversary!

Luke 22:19
And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and gave to them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.


  1. could u please tell me if its possible to save Monarch larvae that have been laid of indian hemp dogbane milkweed? the one and only the larvae refuse to eat? from what i have found on the internet, which is vague, the plants i watched a Monarch lay dozens of eggs on in my garden my be the ones im afraid they are, and im hoping to save them!

    please help.advice appreciated, as im VERY new at this, and i would like to raise the eggs to larvae and beyond as an educational experiment for my children. i happened to be outside today, and literally watched the Monarch in my garden for almost an hour before it flew away..

    i do not have an account on this site, but will save it and check to see if you answered..thank you in advance for your cooperation!

  2. If they're on true milkweed, they're fine. It's rare for them to be laid on dogbane. If a larva is on what seems to be dogbane and is eating it, it isn't dogbane. They will crawl off milkweed to other plants to molt. You could easily find one on dogbane that is molting. Please feel free to email me at We can get into details easier via email.

  3. one last question! do they stop eating the dogbane right away? because the eggs hatched, and there are some pretty good sized holes in the leaves! maybe its true milkweed afterall?? if it IS dogbane, will they stop eating it right away? or will they nibble for awhile before they stop??

  4. If they ate it, it is not dogbane. It must be milkweed. On the Monarch Watch mailing list, people discussed dogbane and no one had found eggs or larvae on dogbane at all. There are many members of the mailing list who are avid Monarch Watchers who faithfully go and count eggs and larvae all season. So the good news - you don't have dogbane with Monarchs, from what I understand!

  5. yeah...they have been eating it with no problems, but looking at your pictures i can see why its so confusing! you should've seen me holding leaves up to my computer screen to compare:D!! The evidence speaks for itself, they are growing bigger by the day! thanks again for all your help.