Dwindling monarch butterfly populations have prompted some gardeners to pepper their landscapes with milkweeds, the various plants in the Asclepiadaceae family on which monarchs lay their eggs. Chubby, zebra-striped monarch caterpillars gorge themselves on the plants' milky alkaloid sap, which makes them poisonous to birds.
The question for many isn't whether to grow milkweed, but how -- and which kind.
In Connie Day's Santa Monica garden, a tiger-colored monarch spars with another butterfly, chasing it from a patch of milkweeds.
"The challenge is keeping the food here," Day says, noting that a few monarchs can defoliate a plant in a couple of weeks.
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