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Invasive vine spotted in northern Michigan poisons monarch caterpillars

close up of plant with purple flowers
Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Officials in northern Michigan are working to remove an invasive plant that poisons monarch butterflies.

The black swallow-wort is a vine with heart-shaped leaves and small, dark purple flowers.

Monarch butterflies often lay their eggs on it, but the caterpillars are poisoned when they hatch and begin to eat the plant.

It grows on the side of the roads, and in pastures and gardens. 

The Traverse City Record-Eagle reports it's been spotted in Kingsley, a village outside of Traverse City.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says its sap is toxic to mammals and insects. The plant also has pathogens that stop other plants from growing around it.

The Associated Press is an independent global news organization dedicated to factual reporting.
Lauren Talley is Michigan Radio’s Morning Edition producer. She produces and edits studio interviews and feature stories, and helps manage the “Mornings in Michigan” series. Lauren also serves as the lead substitute host for Morning Edition.
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