What am I doing wrong?

wifey2mikey(7a Tulsa, OK)June 25, 2011

6 of my 8 babies have died so far. :-( They just stopped eating, crawled to side and died - this morning I found the two larger ones dead. I have moved the two remainig survivors to a new disinfected container.

My joy has turned to sadness.


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We would need more information, Laura. What kind of butterfly? What were you feeding them with? What type of enclosure? Where was the enclosure--sun, shade?

    Bookmark   June 25, 2011 at 6:57PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

There are SO many reasons this could have happened, Laura, but I'm certainly sorry!
Are you letting them raise themselves outside where they could have been attacked by wasps or other predators? If not, they may have a virus - viruses seem to be more common in hot weather, at least here.
Were you feeding them food from the grocery store or nursery? 'May have Bt in it.
Again, there are many possibilites, 'don't know what it is.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2011 at 7:10PM
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wifey2mikey(7a Tulsa, OK)

These are the monarch babies I posted about earlier in the week. The eggs were laid on my butterfly weed in the yard. The morning they hatched, I clipped the leaves and put them in a clean gladware container. I have only been feeding them leaves from my plants (which have not been sprayed with anything other than water.) I did have them on the porch in the shade, with mesh over the top.

I have been cleaning the frass, and giving new leaves. Some of them immediately grew faster than the others... but as I mentioned, two of the largest ones were dead when I checked them at 6:30 am this morning. The others were all very tiny. The two remaining survivors are now in the house - in a different container with fresh leaves. They seem to be okay so far.

I can't locate any of the ones that remained on the plants outside. Wasps have been patrolling regularly and I would venture to guess that most of them met their demise either by wasp or by the same way the ones I had captured did.

I have raised several Monarchs in the past - but usually the cats were 2nd or 3rd instar before I moved them to my enclosure. This was my first attempt at raising them from hatchlings.


    Bookmark   June 25, 2011 at 8:24PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

I don't know. If they oozed, it was probably a virus. Monarchs are very prone to that - I lost a whole batch one year to it.
Elisabeth knows more about viruses and such - maybe she'll see this and post.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2011 at 8:44PM
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It is possible that the egg was infected, and that the caterpillar was infected before you brought it in. It is also possible that the milkweed carried a bacteria, virus, or protozoan, and that is what killed the monarch cats. I have been washing milkweed leaves under a strong stream of cold water for several years, and this seems to help keep the monarch cats healthy. I think that the commercial butterfly operations are using some sort of disinfectant solution to treat the leaves first. If you try this, be sure to rinse the leaves very thoroughly. Soap residue is toxic to insects. After the leaves have been washed, they have to be dried with a paper towel or something similar.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2011 at 10:16PM
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wifey2mikey(7a Tulsa, OK)

The last two died also. :::: sigh ::::


    Bookmark   June 26, 2011 at 3:39PM
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