How’s this for an easier mystery?
Check back with you later!
Wow, we had two correct guesses today! Yessiree, this is Butterfly Weed, Asclepius tuberosa, which Ms. Flora says is one of the most human-friendly milkweeds. It’s short and bright and blooms most of the summer. Humans seem to like neat, showy plants, have you noticed?
Connie is right–see her comment–this native wildflower attracts the Monarch and Queen butterflies to lay their eggs because the caterpillars feed on the leaves. Butterflies and hummingbirds also feed on the nectar, but having caterpillar food is the more important reason to plant milkweeds.
While the butterflies aren’t so picky about what they eat–like any decent squirrel–caterpillars are extremely picky and may eat only one type of plant. (Remember those Zebra Swallowtails Nutmeg pointed out back on April 30th for ‘Z’ day with the blogging A to Z Challenge?) If the butterfly can’t find it to lay eggs…no caterpillars and no more butterflies.
So your pretty Milkweed leaves may only look like this at the start of summer. When they turn ragged, celebrate! You have visitors and have helped wildlife!