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Do Deer Eat Milkweed? (All You Need to Know)

Milkweed is known for its nectar and pollen and it is an important plant for pollinating agents like butterflies or bees. Milkweed plants are also a favorite for animals like bunnies, rabbits, and other herbivores. The leaves as well as the fruit of milkweed are very tasty and delicious.

However, there is confusion about whether herbivores like deer eat milkweed or not. In this article, we are going to sort out the answer to this question.

Do deer eat milkweed?

Milkweed is regarded as a deer-resistant plant, but the deer do love to eat the leaves of milkweed. Sometimes they also go for the fruits and flowers as they are very tasty due to their nectar and pollen. However, not all deers eat milkweed because of its toxicity but the toxic level is very low.

Milkweed plants are known for their delicious nectar because of which butterflies like monarch butterflies love to suck those nectars from the plant.

They are an important food source for insects like moths, flies, bees, butterflies, etc. The flowers and the fruits are also very tasty and delicious and provide important nutrients for different insects.

However, in spite of being deer-resistant, some deers eat the leaves as well as the flowers and fruits of the milkweed plant.

But most deer ignore this plant because of its toxicity. Although the toxic level is minimum in the leaves of the milkweed plants, there will be no effect on the health of the herbivores.

If you want to keep your home safe from the deers then you can certainly plant milkweed plants. However, there is no guarantee that the plant will fully protect your home from deers. As deers will love to go for those delicious and tasty leaves, flowers, and fruits.

Milkweed plants:

Milkweed plants have a high reputation for being constantly attacked by deers despite being known as deer-resistant plants.

Despite having toxic in their leaves the deer will definitely come back for those delicious leaves, fruits, and flowers. Therefore it can be said that Milkweed plants are definitely not deer-resistant plants.

Milkweed flower:

Just like the plant milkweed flower is also one of the favorite parts for the deer. As the flower contains nectar, therefore, it does have a sweet taste in it.

Therefore, just like the monarch butterflies, the deer will also come back to eat those delicious flowers.

Milkweed pods:

Milkweed pods are mainly used as stuffings for jackets, blazers, etc. However, they are also an important food source for different bugs.

In the case of deer, it is completely different. Because the deer only goes for either leaves or fruits and flowers.

Milkweed leaves:

Undoubtedly milkweed leaves are the favorite food source for the deer.

The deer will definitely go for the leaves first rather than going for the fruits. In addition, the leaves contain less toxin which is why eating leaves is completely safe for the deer.

Well, there are confusions regarding the case of whitetail deer eating milkweed plants. Because reports say that the whitetail deers are not completely deer-resistant.

However, some people say that the whitetail deers completely ignores the plant as well as the area where it has been grown. Therefore, if you want to plant milkweed plants to keep away the white tail deers then there is a high chance that the idea might fail.

Do deer like milkweed?

Well, the answer to this question is both yes and no. From the statements of the people, it is reported that the deers usually ignore the milkweed plant completely. 

However, some people also say that planting milkweed plants in their backyard has gone in vain in keeping away the deers.

But there is a reason behind why the deers always come back to eat the milkweed plants. Despite being toxic, the leaves, fruits, and flowers of the plant are very delicious.

Although the toxic level is very minimal in the plants, therefore, eating the parts of the plant won’t create any health issues for the deer.

In addition, the flowers of the plant contain delicious nectar and pollen for which the bugs always come back for the plants. It is also a similar case when it comes to deer as the deers are very fond of those leaves, fruits, and flowers of the milkweed plant.

Are milkweed deer resistant?

Well, the milkweed plants are known as deer-resistant plants but they are actually not. The milkweed plants are known as an important pollen source for the bugs.

As the plant’s flowers produce pollen and nectar for pollination, therefore you will often see different bugs eating those nectars in milkweed plants.

The deer are also very fond of those flowers as they taste very delicious because of that pollen and nectars. Just like the monarch butterflies the deer also loves to eat the fruits and flowers of the milkweed plant. You might wonder whether the toxin on the plant harms the deer or not.

Well, the toxicity level on the milkweed plant is very minimal therefore, eating the different parts of the milkweed plant doesn’t create any major health issues.

In the end, if you are thinking of planting the milkweed plant for its capability of being deer-resistant, then you should think twice. Because as per the major reports and people’s statements, the milkweed plants have reportedly failed to keep the deers away.

Do deer eat these milkweeds?

Well, there are varieties of milkweed plants available in the wild. However, not all varieties of the milkweed plant are deer-resistant but certainly, some of them are. In below, we are going to discuss whether different varieties of milkweed plants are deer-resistant or not:

Common milkweed:

Well common milkweed plants have a very sticky and milky sap that is usually ignored by deers. Usually, common milkweed is an important food source for bugs and insects rather than herbivores like deer.

Swamp milkweed:

Swamp milkweed is also completely deer-resistant as the different parts of these plants contain high levels of toxins. In addition, different bugs and insects or pollinators ignore these plants due to their high level of toxicity.

The deer also completely ignores the swamp milkweed plant because of its high level of toxicity.

Butterfly milkweed:

Butterfly milkweed is an important food source for different bugs and insects. It is an important plant for generating food for the pollinators like monarch butterflies. The deer are also very fond of butterfly milkweed.

As the butterfly milkweed has low-level toxins in its leaves and has a mouth-watering taste in its flowers and fruits. Therefore, it is very tough for the deer to ignore such a variety of milkweed plants.

Tropical milkweed:

Tropical milkweed also has a reputation for being a favorite food source for larvas for different bugs. It is an important food source for monarch butterflies.

The milkweed has less toxicity in its leaves and also the flowers and fruits are very tasty. Tropical milkweed only grows in tropical regions, therefore, if you are planning to plant the tropical milkweed in your backyard then it might not bring you a positive result.

How to prevent deer from eating my milkweed plants?

There are several ways you can follow in order to prevent deer from eating your milkweed plants. We have noted some of the simple ways you can apply in order to save milkweed plants. The tips are noted below:

Putting up a fence:

This is one of the simplest ways you can save your milkweed plant by putting up a fence or boundary. Make sure the fence is 9 to 10 feet high. As the deers have the capability to jump up to 8 feet.

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Putting up hair clippings:

This is also one of the simplest ways to keep your deer away from your plant. Simply hang some hair clippings on top of the fence and eventually, the deers will smell the hair clippings and go away from the plants thinking there are humans around them.

Highly deer-resistant plants:

You can simply plant highly deer-resistant plants around your milkweed plant. So that the deer go away by just smelling the highly deer-resistant plants and won’t come near the milkweed plants.

Some of the highly deer-resistant plants are bellflower, iris, lupin, Boxwood, etc.

What else is eating my milkweed?

Your milkweed plant can be eaten by different bugs, moths, larvae, and even butterflies. As the nectar of the milkweed plant is the most favorite food source for the monarch butterflies, therefore, they keep coming back for those nectars present in the flowers.

Also, different kinds of insects and even larvae of those insects eat milkweed plants.

Final Thoughts:

Deer do eat milkweed plants despite being known as deer-resistant plants. The delicious leaves and flowers of the plant not only attract deer but also attract different bugs, insects, and larvae. The toxin level in the milkweed plants doesn’t affect the deers, therefore, most deers eat the plant.