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Invasive plant harmful to Monarch Butterflies found in Northern Michigan

Mary Holbrow

Black Swallow Wort, an invasive plant harmful to Monarch butterflies, has been found in the Grand Traverse County village of Kingsley.

Emily Cook with the Invasive Species Network said for reasons that are not yet clear the plant attracts Monarch to lay eggs on it.

“The caterpillars when they hatch are unable to eat the Swallow-Wort, it’s toxic to them, so it’s killing off the caterpillars.”

Cook said her organization oversees Benzie, Grand Traverse, Leelanau, and Manistee. She said Antrim and Emmet, which are overseen by a different network, reportedly also have infestations.

Cook said her group is taking steps to combat the plant - but they need the public's help in finding where it has spread.

“We’re hoping if people do find it in the counties we serve they’ll inform us because we don’t know about it but Kingsley is the only location.”

Cook said it’s not clear what impact the plant would have on Monarch Butterfly populations - but it wouldn’t be good.

If you see any black swallow-wort call 231 941 0960