How To Raise Monarch Butterflies
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Who Knew You Could Raise Caterpillars Into Butterflies?
Raising Monarchs was never even on my radar until my parents had a friend over for a visit. Their friend, Georgie, said how he had raised Monarch Butterflies for the past three decades! They would find Monarch eggs or caterpillars and raise them indoors. Over the years, they had raised and released hundreds of Monarch butterflies!
I was intrigued! We have a large garden and we also keep honeybees. Therefore, I have a natural affinity for our pollinators! The whole time Georgie is talking about milkweed, I’m envisioning our patch of milkweed that we have in our orchard. So of course, out to the orchard I go, to begin one of many caterpillar hunts in our milkweed patch. I found two caterpillars and brought them inside. I was hooked!
There Are Organizations To Help Save The Monarchs
I found a website called MonarchWatch.org ordered butterfly tags, a tee shirt, and a butterfly garden sign for my milkweed patch.
Steps we followed to raise Monarch Butterflies indoors:
1. Create little individual homes with lids that have air holes.
2. Fresh milkweed leaves need to be added daily.
3. Time. The caterpillar will shed its skin several times as it grows. This is two day’s worth of growth and both caterpillars have shed their skin.
4. Once the caterpillar starts hanging out on the ceiling, it’s getting ready to form its chrysalis.
5. It will form a “J” shape just before it sheds its skin one last time.
6. The green chrysalis is inside of the caterpillar!
7. More time for the butterfly to develop inside of the chrysalis.
8. Gently remove the chrysalis and transfer to a spot it can hang without fear of the butterflies wings touching anything after it hatches.
9. The chrysalis will turn clear and you will be able to see the color of butterfly’s wings.
10. The Monarch will need to hang as the wing dry and the butterfly fills out.
11. You can tag the butterfly with the monarchwatch.org tags.
12. Record your data (date, gender, location, etc.) and release your butterfly on a nice day.
13. Release during nice weather. Watch this short video of the whole process:
14. Repeat! And just about when I found my last Monarch caterpillar in the orchard…I found Swallowtail caterpillars in the garden on the dill, and started the whole process again for the Swallowtails. Their food is a little more varied than the Monarchs (milkweed), they will munch on Dill, Parsley, Queen Anne’s Lace, and Carrot Tops.