Protecting Monarchs from predators.

docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)June 9, 2013

I was admiring the beautiful rearing cages on another thread, and wondering whether it would work to put one of those cages over a milkweed plant that is already growing in the ground. Would spiders crawl under the edge and cause havoc? I should probably try a sleeve that can be tied around the bottom. I remember how much time it takes to open and clean cages indoors. And the milkweed leaves don't stay as fresh as they would on the growing plant. It always seems like a waste to throw out leaves only half eaten.

I tried to sprout seedlings in pots that would fit into a cage, but I had dismal germination. Maybe I can scout around the outdoor plants for some volunteer seedlings. Except I was hoping those would attract the females to lay eggs. Oh, it's so complicated!! LOL.

Martha

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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

I guess I didn't really ask a question. I think I'll try one of the paint strainers tied around a growing plant outside. That won't be as time consuming as bringing them indoors. I won't have to check on them so often.

Martha

    Bookmark   June 10, 2013 at 7:06AM
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butterflymomok(7a NE OK)

Martha,

The only problem I've run into is that the predators are already on the plants that I've contained. It's hard to know if there are eggs or small mites on the plant. I just experienced a situation where ants invaded one of my rearing containers and devoured a Variegated Fritillary chrysalis. I don't know if we can ever make something totally safe. I've tried collecting small Red Admiral cats this year and raising them. I don't see anything on the LFP, but the ugly little white pupas show up after a few days. This year, in particular, the predators have gotten a big head start.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2013 at 9:38AM
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Leafhead

Sounds like your RAs are already parasitized by the time you collect them. Those little buggers hit them young!! You almost have to follow the ELF as she lays her eggs.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2013 at 10:35AM
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butterflymomok(7a NE OK)

Yes, so right! Unless you see the RA lay the eggs, you can't find them. They are so tiny. I have two eggs that I found that are now caterpillars doing well. I followed the mama and collected the eggs as she laid them. And, yesterday, I released a healthy RA that was missed by the parasitic wasps. All in all, it's been BFmom - 2, and parasitic wasps - 7.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2013 at 1:44PM
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susanlynne48(OKC7a)

This is just my theory, but I have more parisitized RAs early in the season than later. Most batches I've raised between April and July have been attacked, while those I've raised between August and October are clean. Makes you wonder,huh?

Susan

    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 6:18AM
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mostone

Last year I had success putting paint strainers over milkweed plants to protect my Monarch cats. I was planning on being away at the same time as my sister, and since we usually take care of each other's butterfly projects, I needed a way to keep enough food for the cats. (They were big and eating a lot!) I lost one out of the many that made it through and pupated in there.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 11:21AM
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