Late last year we planted narrow leaf milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis) in the hope that we could provide habitat for the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus). Incredibly, the monarchs found the smallest plants and laid eggs. At our first work party in September we found three beautiful caterpillars gently moving their elegant black filaments and feeding on the milkweed leaves and the blooms. We also spotted a monarch circling around all the milkweed plants, landing on several of them and laying more eggs. This is yet another example of how quickly our native plants become habitat. The milkweed also provides protection from predation due to the bitter toxins it contains that are taken up by the butterflies, making them unpalatable to birds. While Danaus plexippus are known for their long migrations, ours are said to spend the winter along the California coast from north of the Bay to Santa Barbara. Nature never fails to astound us. The restoration crew was thrilled to find these exquisite creatures. Everyone wants to plant more milkweed.
Stewards and volunteers continued their work throughout the site removing Russian thistle (Salsola soda) and the remaining bindweed. We also worked along the spit of land going out into Hoffman Marsh (actually a covered discharge pipe from EBMUD’s Wet Weather Facility that sits on the Bay). That area has an amazing array of marsh plants that we have been trying to support by removing the highly invasive Algerian sea lavender and Russian thistle. With another work party or two we should have those plants under control.
Saturday (9-19) was Coastal Clean Up Day. Members of the EBRPD staff were out supporting the many volunteers who collected a lot of trash from along the Bay. As always, we thank the District for their support.
Tom and Jane Kelly