Up to 320 Monarchs released

minrose(4Mn)July 6, 2012

Been pretty busy with raising Monarch catepillars, I have released 320 so far with 5 to eclose today but.... there has been a lull, I don't have very many right now. Have not been finding very many eggs or catepillars lately but I am finally starting to find some again. How is everyone else doing?

Here are some photos of some of my beauties.

I have also raised Painted Lady catepillars, so far only one has eclosed, with probably 3 eclosing today!

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Minrose I think if you keep doing this, your yard is going to be like the northern version of Mexico, where all the Monarchs go in the summer. : )
It's so weird how they all migrate to the same spot for the winter, it wouldn't surprise me if someone said they somehow know to visit you in the summer.
I've only had one little batch of cats, about a dozen in my yard so far this year.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 8:11AM
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wifey2mikey(7a Tulsa, OK)

Congratulations! I'm so happy you do this - it means it increases the odds for visitors in my yard later this summer! :-) Your pictures are amazing!

Thanks for all you're doing!


    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 9:45AM
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Ok I forgot to ask, what is the flower in the first photo?

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 12:10PM
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Tony G(5a)

Beautiful photos minrose! keep your eyes peeled for eggs. my garden is covered again and I just saw a female fluttering around the yard.

I'm mostly seeing red admirals, american ladies, and question marks that I keep mistaking for monarchs....what's with all the question marks this year???? (pun intended, but really!!)

I think the a large percentage of monarchs and swallowtails are enjoying some cooler weather in Canada. The migration should be one for the ages. Still a sauna here in Minneapolis! Tony

PS Christie, I think you're on to something with the monarchs knowing where to migrate north. They haven't missed our garden in twenty years!

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 3:28PM
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thank you so much everyone! That flower is some kind of sunflower, I bought it in a pot, minature version of a sunflower.
I have not seen any swallowtails yet, I looked last year, it was around July 20, when I started to see the catepillars so... I am hoping to raise a few of them too.
I have been going back to some of my favorite places for milkweed, which had been mowed down but some of the milkweed is growing back now and I am finding some eggs and small catepillars again, yeah!

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 7:17AM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

This year is very slow for me compared to last year, but I moved away from my established butterfly garden. I did have thre or four cats earlier, but they had very smudgy stripes, so I'm afraid they had OE. I haen't seen a Monarch, egg or cat since--either in my yard, or anywhere else. We had a lovely early spring, but it's been beastly hot since mid-June with minimal rain. I've been able to hand water my transplants, and I did have Tiger Swallowtail on my coneflowers yesterday. Also, Monarchs don't usually arrive here in great numbers until later in July. I was just really having success in my old yard, I think because they really do know how to find the same region that their parents visited. Hope everyone's luck continues to improve.


    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 11:34AM
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runmede(7a Virginia)

Your first photo of two Monarchs shows an aberrant on the left. Note the white instead of the orange spots on the forewing.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 4:00PM
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The one on the left was also quite a bit smaller than normal! I do see the difference of the white and orange spots on the two also.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 5:22PM
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runmede(7a Virginia)

I copied a couple of pages from "A Field Guide to the Butterflies of North America, East of the Great Plains" by Alexander B. Klots
Images of Page 77 and 78.

These may be a combination north and south american species.

During a butterfly release at a local park my friend Harry Pavulaan went running through the field when he saw one of these Monarchs. He yelled "aberrant". They have white subapical spots.

I told Harry to stop that I had plenty left in my tent at home. I rear local butterfly species for conservation. I also try to save and create habitat.

Here is a link that might be useful: Photo of Monarchs with the white subapical spots.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 6:16PM
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terrene(5b MA)

Great pictures of both flowers and butterflies! They are both beauties. I am amazed you have released 320 so far. Way to go!!

I just saw my first 2 lovely Monarchs on July 2nd in the back garden tussling over the Echinacea - and one (or both) left me eggs. Now raising 24 cats/eggs with the oldest at 3rd instar.

Here it is about a week later I am seeing Monarchs everywhere. I have to restrain myself from collecting too many eggs, which is hard cuz there are some out in the garden right now on the small tropical milkweed and I KNOW they must be laying eggs all over the wild patches of common Milkweed. I am just insanely busy right now and don't have time to raise too many.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 11:10PM
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Terrene, I know what you mean about being so busy, caring for all these catepillars is very time consuming, but DH keeps telling me that I need to limit myself as I have lots of other things to do besides. I find it so hard!
Runmede, thanks for the interesting info!

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 7:10AM
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terrene(5b MA)

Well, I broke down this morning and collected 5 more eggs from the small tropical milkweed plants. There were even more eggs out there yesterday, because that female was scouring all the tiny plants in the gardens and she laid eggs on practically all them. However, this morning some of the eggs I saw yesterday were gone already, so they've been preyed upon. I decided to rescue the remaining 5!

Up to 29.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 9:10AM
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runmede(7a Virginia)

My DH reminds me every year that I say I was going to cut back. My dinning room table is covered with caterpillar containers and so is the garden window. There are also large 5' net containers on the porch under umbrellas. And, I have a 8'x10' screen tent (that is currently empty due to our excessive heat).

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 12:02PM
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wifey2mikey(7a Tulsa, OK)

Please please please give me some advice on collecting the eggs and keeping the hatchlings alive. I have raised several other species without incident, but I have the hardest time with the Monarchs unless I catch the caterpillars in a 2nd or 3rd instar. How do you keep the milkweed fresh? do you remove the eggs from the milkweed or leave the on the leaf? Do you raise them outside or inside? In a container or a mesh cage of somesort... help help help. I have a Monarch female that left me MANY eggs two days ago and I'm trying to figure out what to do. I will not intervene at all unless I figure out what to do differently than I have been doing.


    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 1:10PM
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Tony G(5a)


I'm a little more "hands on" than most but I rarely have issues with monarchs and have never had a disease outbreak in 30 years. Here are some things that I think are essential.

A good cage: for my small caterpillars I use this cage:

http://www.amazon.com/Kritter-Keeper-Large-Rectangle-Colors/dp/B0002APZOO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1342038257&sr=8-1&keywords=kritter+cage (there are bigger and smaller sizes...my limit is 10 at a time in the large one)

for larger cats I put them in my large "caterpillar castle" to pupate...they could pupate on the lid of the other cage but it's easier to watch them in the castle and you won't disturb the chrysalides when feeding your small cats.

milkweed- common works best if you're picking leaves because it stays fresh longer. Thoroughly rinse the leaves with cold water for these reasons: predators, disease, the cats like to drink the water. (just make sure there's no standing water in cage that could drown a small cat)

give milkweed twice a day...when they're small you can re-rinse leaves at night if you are comfortable handling them.

each time you change leaves, empty frass from the cage then rinse with warm water, than wipe dry with paper towel. In the caterpillar castle, I just pick up the frass, then wipe floor clean with a wet paper towel

I usually transplant all cats onto new leaves by hand. If you're not comfortable doing that, just rip a small piece of the leaf around them and set on the new leaf.

I think water on leaves and a clean cage are probably big keys to success...good luck Laura! Tony

Here is a link that might be useful: Caterpillar cage

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 4:44PM
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runmede(7a Virginia)

I use those critter keepers for Pipevine Swallowtails. I take a deli plastic container, put holes in the lid and then put the leaves in. I line the critter keeper with paper towel, this makes it easier to clean up frass.

What is a caterpillar castle?

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 5:32PM
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terrene(5b MA)

I prefer to collect Monarchs as either eggs or very small instars. Haven't had very good luck with larger cats, they just don't seem to thrive inside. Figure that if a 4th or 5th instar has made it that far in the "field", they probably have a good chance to make it to chrysalis.

After finding an egg, I cut off a good sized piece or pick off the whole leaf that contains the egg, and lay them out on a damp paper towel with the egg side up. This helps to keep the leaf fresh. I usually spritz the towel every morning. Just be cautious that it's not too wet - the leaf can mold. The leaf may wilt a bit, but it doesn't dry up to a crisp.

It's easy to tell when the egg is going to hatch - they turn greyish/brown beforehand. When the little guy hatches, I also try to carefully transfer them to a sprig of milkweed. For the small ones, I always cut a tender growth tip and use that for food.

At that stage, one will occasionally disappear and they're easy to lose, drop, or smush, but most of them do fine, and they usually stay on their sprig of milkweed eating tiny little sections of leaf.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2012 at 11:41AM
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Tony G(5a)

I don't usually like to bring in large cats because of the "tachnid flies". They usually don't like coming inside that late, and they crawl up the cage wall but never had a problem with them not eating, pupating, and eclosing...I'd stick with eggs though, if possible.

I don't use paper towels to line my cage (just dump it and rinse it out) or for the eggs (just pick up the leaf with egg and spritz it over the sink). I like the caterpillar cage I linked to above because I have never lost a small cat using it. The caterpillar castle is sold by live monarch...I have the jumbo castle.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2012 at 12:43PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Beautiful pictures, and, as usual, your monarch numbers are AMAZING!!


    Bookmark   July 12, 2012 at 12:50PM
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wifey2mikey(7a Tulsa, OK)

Okay- so how do you keep the "sprig" of milkweed fresh. I find that inside the house it is crispy within less than 24 hours. Outside, with the heat, even faster. The babies are too tiny for me to feel comfortable moving them, but when I've added a fresh new leaf, it seems like they never move to it. It's not like I'm super new at this... I've been trying for a few years, and unless I get them when they are bit larger, I haven't had much success with the babies. I'm thinking next year i'm going to keep several milkweeds in pots instead of planting them... but they absolutely flourish in my garden and get HUGE, the ones in pots seem to not keep nearly as many leaves and don't grow as well. (I'm talking tropical milkweed here.) I am in the middle of a city so finding wild milkweed isn't as easy but I will try.


    Bookmark   July 12, 2012 at 12:59PM
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Tony G(5a)

if you don't have common, it's hard to keep leaves fresh for long. if you have tropical or swamp you can put cuttings in water and keep them on those...just make sure they can't fall in the water.

It would be a good idea to put your vase/glass with the cuttings inside something like a Caterpillar castle so they can't wander away

Here is a link that might be useful: caterpillar castle

    Bookmark   July 12, 2012 at 4:25PM
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wifey2mikey(7a Tulsa, OK)

Okay - caught five new hatchlings. Changed my "nursery" set up a bit, wetted the papertowels, AND managed to find some milkweed growing by the side of the road near my sisters house. Let's hope this works better. Keep your fingers crossed for me (and say a prayer please!)


    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 12:59PM
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runmede(7a Virginia)

This is just a suggestion, if any one wants to try it. A friend taught me this. I clip the eggs with a little leaf. Then place those leaf bits on a plastic deli lid. That lid is placed on top of a damp paper towel inside of a larger plastic container. This keeps the leaves moist, but doesn't cause these leaves to mold like it would if you placed them on to a damp paper towel.

I watch the eggs and transfer new larvae because the tiny caterpillars will eat another egg if it close by. You can transfer them easily by using another leaf. Just scoop them on to the edge and put them into another container with like sized caterpillars. Similar sizes make better roommates. They don't eat each other.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 2:07PM
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Even if I find a fairly large Monarch cat, I still bring it in so that I can contain the tachinid fly that might come out. Actually, when I see those strings hanging from a cat or pupa, I look for the fly pupae and smash them. If I leave the big cats outside, then there will just be more flies around to attack other Monarch cats.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 10:57PM
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wifey2mikey(7a Tulsa, OK)

Cathy I do the exact same thing. I've only had two with tachinid flies that I caught early on and I squashed the pupae as well.

So far the five babies I caught are doing well and eating. I have put both the tropical milkweed leaves and the common milkweed leaves in the container and they are feeding exclusively on the tropical and completely ignoring the common.


    Bookmark   July 14, 2012 at 11:58AM
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