YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — The Mahoning County Soil & Water Conservation District is looking for the public’s help once again in collecting milkweed seed pods as part of a statewide effort to reverse the decline in monarch butterflies.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources attributes the rapid decline of the butterflies to the disappearance of milkweed, the only host plant for monarch caterpillars.

“Milkweed is required for the life cycle of the monarch butterfly,” said Kathleen Vrable-Bryan, district administrator at the Mahoning SWCD. “Monarchs lay their eggs exclusively on milkweed because monarch larvae and monarch caterpillars’ sole food source is the milkweed leaf.”

Seed pods collected by the SWCD and others will assist in the planting of milkweed throughout Ohio to support the monarchs. 

“These milkweed seed collections could be crucial in the success of the monarchs and, by extension, agriculture in the Mahoning Valley,” Vrable-Bryan said.

Pods need to be dry, gray or brown (not green) in color to be picked and should be stored in a cool, dry area until they can be delivered to the SWCD office, located at 850 Industrial Road in Youngstown. Visitors are asked to place milkweed in the bucket provided by the building’s entrance.

Milkweed seed pod
Milkweed seed pod. Adobe Stock

Pods can be dropped off Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. They should be stored in a paper bag and labeled with the date of collection and the county in which they were collected.

The collection begins Sept. 1 and continues through November. More information on the effort can be found here.