Photo: The Milkweed Adoption Program

Want to become a citizen scientist and help monarch butterflies? Join the Milkweed Adoption Program.

The David Suzuki Foundation and University of Toronto-Scarborough (UTSC) are excited to team up to learn more about milkweed in the city — and we need your help!

As part of the Butterflyway Project, the Foundation will provide two milkweed plants for up to 200 households in Toronto and Markham during July 2017. The swamp milkweed plants were provided by Sustainable.TO and Burt's Bees, which had used the plants in an recent installation.

Participants that sign up below will be able to pick up their adopted swamp milkweed plants at events over the next two weeks in Toronto's east and west ends and in Markham. The first pick-up will be at a Butterflyway event in Christie Pits Park on July 6.

UPDATE: Please note all milkweed plants have now been adopted

Once milkweed is planted, these citizen scientists will be asked to report back when the plants begin to flower and go to seed next year. UTSC researchers will use this citizen-reported data to better understand how the built environment affects milkweed and other pollinator-friendly plants.

Need more convincing? Swamp milkweed's plentiful nectar attracts many types of pollinators, including bumblebees, honeybees, swallowtail and fritillary butterflies and hummingbirds to your garden. Milkweed is also the plant that monarch butterflies depend on for survival. Monarchs exclusively lay eggs on milkweed and it is the main food for their caterpillars. It will thrive in average garden soil as long as it does not dry out completely, especially in the spring. Thus, it is an excellent addition to a native plant garden.

What are we studying?

In cities, temperature variability due to the structure of the built environment leads to changes in flowering time and seed set of different plants we use in gardening and pollinator habitat.

In this study we are interested in working with citizen scientists to track the phenology of swamp milkweed (Asclepius incarnata) across the region and its contribution to pollinator habitat.

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