Keeping Monarchs alive for release

butterflymomok(7a NE OK)June 1, 2011

Anyone have experience with keeping butterflies alive for extended periods of time? We have our annual Relay for Life this Friday. Monarch Watch didn't have any caterpillars or chrysalids available, so I had 24 Monarchs eclose this past week. I lost one last night. They are in two large cages with all kinds of nectar plants from my garden. They seem to like the Verbena bonairiensis the best. I've got 2 more days--and I'm holding my breath.

Sandy

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minrose(4Mn)

I had to keep 12 monarchs alive for a couple of weeks for a wedding, I lost one but others survived for the wedding and were released the day after the wedding. If you notice some are not drinking up the nectar from the flowers, you might need to encourage them to. I put apple slices in the the two cages and placed them on the apple slices, I hear gatorade is good. good luck!

    Bookmark   June 1, 2011 at 10:47PM
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KC Clark - Zone 2012-6a OH

Gatorade is the ticket. I don't remember anymore which flavor is supposed to be the favorite one.

Our local monarch lady puts little puddles on a table and then sets one monarch next to each puddle. The monarchs stand there and drink until they're full. It is neat to watch.

Monarch Lady keeps a monarch tent at one of our metroparks. She has many flowers in the tent but she says the monarchs don't get enough food off the flowers so that is why she supplements with the Gatorade.

KC

    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 12:02AM
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butterflymomok(7a NE OK)

Thanks! I'm supplementing with Juicy Juice. I lost a second Monarch last evening, but others seem to be quite alive. I like the puddles idea--will give that a try.

Sandy

    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 2:43PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

I happened to be reading this article the other day and thought of it when I saw your question. I've also seen trays of fruit at the annual butterfly exhibit at the Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus, OH, when I used to live there.

In conjunction, maybe somebody can answer the question this discussion causes me to have. How would butterflies eat fruit? Seems like all they would be able to do is drink the juices off of the outside. So it then seems like putting fruit in a blender or juicer would be better. I don't want to keep butterflies but am just curious.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 3:39PM
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bananasinohio(6OH)

We use gatorade. I forget which flavor is the favorite but anything except the citrus flavors. I also use a honey water. Just not raw honey, or boil it, due to the bacteria. I put a puddle on a plate, take a large needle, grasp a monarch and unwind the proboscis into the puddle. Usually once the proboscis is in the puddle I can let go and the butterfly will sit there and feed. you have to have a non-slip surface though, like a paper towel for them to sit on. Once they I have done this once or twice with them, they learn and feed from the plates themselves. We have pipevine swallowtails come out really early before we have any annuals planted and they learn to use the plates.

Cheers,
Elisabeth

    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 5:41PM
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bananasinohio(6OH)

We use gatorade. I forget which flavor is the favorite but anything except the citrus flavors. I also use a honey water. Just not raw honey, or boil it, due to the bacteria. I put a puddle on a plate, take a large needle, grasp a monarch and unwind the proboscis into the puddle. Usually once the proboscis is in the puddle I can let go and the butterfly will sit there and feed. you have to have a non-slip surface though, like a paper towel for them to sit on. Once they I have done this once or twice with them, they learn and feed from the plates themselves. We have pipevine swallowtails come out really early before we have any annuals planted and they learn to use the plates.

Cheers,
Elisabeth

    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 5:42PM
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butterflymomok(7a NE OK)

Thanks, Elizabeth. I haven't lost any today, thankfully. The Relay for Life is tomorrow evening. I think we will have at least 18 Monarchs to release. The cancer survivors enjoy seeing the butterflies, and it's amazing how they follow the joggers around the track. This will be my second year to participate.

Sandky

    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 9:25PM
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butterflymomok(7a NE OK)

Seventeen Monarchs made it to the release--a few were turned loose early when they started showing signs of stress. It was a success! Thanks for all the input.

Sandy

    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 10:01PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Awesome to hear, butterflymomok! That's really cool.

Bananasinohio, I was just curious what you meant about bacteria and honey. Most microorganisms can not grow in honey, and it is known to have antibacterial properties. Still edible honey was found in pyramids in Egypt, when correctly stored it never goes bad. Do butterflies have the same inability to digest honey as human infants?

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 3:49PM
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