I'm a catastrophic thinker too, glad to hear I'm not the only one! No I'm not in an overwintering area. But am a few hours from some on the Calif Coast.The heavy planting in my area of tropical milkweed has caused the monarchs to stick around and breed into the winter, and not migrate to the coast anymore as they used to. I had OE trouble last season too on any caterpillar I took in November-December. This year I just took in more. It was constant work that sadly was in vain.
My reply shows the danger of my posting when tired, concise goes out the window. I wasn't sure about the posting rules either, so I re-read them, and will put a link that will explain so nicely what I was stumbling around trying to say. Great article on monarchs from the Univ. Florida: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/uw311
I am still wondering [b] is there any benefit to growing milkweed and thereby increasing the wild monarch numbers, in a heavily OE infested M. population?
This is the most important question to me.[/b]
-In the history of the monarch, was there any disease as virulent as OE? -What caused OE to co-evolve with the monarch in the 60's?
-Does OE/Monarch co-evolution coincide with the introduction of "Tropical milkweed" into North America?
-What is the relationship of the OE spore to the milkweed plant and it's toxin?
-If Tropical milkweed helps Monarchs against the spore due to it's higher toxicity, why is greater disease associated with Tropical MW simultaneously?-Has any research been done to develop a rootstock that could be grafted onto native milkweed that would kill OE and not harm the monarch?
(similar to how certain plants will be resistant to nematodes if grafted onto certain rootstock)
-Has any substance besides bleach been found to kill the spore?
-If a monarch abdomen is tested too often with tape, could that individual come up with a false negative for OE? (One butterfly got tested many times by accident and I'm wondering if I could have removed all the spores?