Have You Released Some Monarchs?

bandjzmom(7 NWGeorgia)September 24, 2010

I am just curious about your release numbers so far. Last year, I released 95 Monarch adults. With a lot of cat sickness this year, my numbers will be down. As of yesterday, I have released 64. My biggest day so far was yesterday with 23 released. I notice that they begin to eclose around about 8:30am. Once the first one is out, it's like a chain reaction. They just start bursting out all over the tent. It's such a miracle, and I am very blessed to sit in the midst of it!

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fighting8r(10 Fort Myers Florida)

Only a few, a dozen or so of the 280 we've released to date this year have been monarchs. I had almost 100% of the cats dying, and quit bringing them in to raise around the beginning of the year. But not finding any cats on the plants either, like usual, even though eggs are being left.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2010 at 10:29AM
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bandjzmom(7 NWGeorgia)

Wow, you have released 280 butterflies this year Kelly? Which species had the largest numbers? I raised and released a boat load of Sleepy Oranges earlier in the year. I have also raised and released some Cloudless Sulphurs, Black Swallowtails, and Gulf Fritillaries. I think I have about 10 Gulf chrysalides left out there. Three of those darn Gulf cats pupated right on the zipper of my mesh tent. Can't open the tent now without probably detatching the chrysalides.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2010 at 11:08AM
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fighting8r(10 Fort Myers Florida)

Sorry I stand corrected, my six-year-old who is in charge of the log tells me that with this morning's orange barred sulphur we are at 281. Mostly gulf frits. Although if the 25 or so BSTs eclose that will put them up in the 40-ish range, possibly good enough for 2nd place after the gulfs.
94 gulf fritillaries
38 white peacocks
30 zebra longwing
27 orange barred sulphurs
27 giant swallowtail
And a bunch of others, including black swallowtails, cassius blues, cloudless sulphurs, one eastern tiger swallowtail, great southern whites, julias, monarchs, I think that covers it..


    Bookmark   September 24, 2010 at 12:10PM
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molanic(Zone 5 IL)

The monarchs here were VERY busy this year. Early in the season I was looking for eggs and found about 30. After that all the additional eggs I found and raised were just found on the milkweed I collected to feed the cats. I released 161 monarchs and have 2 left to eclose.

I really wanted to try raising some other species this year, because I put in a bunch of new host plants. I was just too busy with the monarchs though. I did manage to raise about 10 black swallowtails with them.

I didn't really have much disease. All that I released appeared healthy and normal.

I had about 7 that failed to pupate. Some of them I think were my fault. I tried to make it easier on myself by moving a group of 5 cats that were getting pretty big to an outside enclosure with potted milkweed after having been inside since they hatched. Soon after, we had some sudden drastic temperature shifts and I think it shocked them because they all died while trying to pupate. Lesson learned.

I also learned not to put all my eggs in one basket so to speak :) When I found eggs on the milkweed I brought in I put them all in one container and then just checked it everyday to remove any that had hatched. I didn't realize they would hatch and then eat their sibling eggs. At first I thought I had miscounted. When a container of 20 eggs turned into 10 caterpillars I figured it out though and switched to more containers with fewer eggs in them and spaced far apart.

I think for next year I had better start some more juicy varieties of milkweed, because I almost ran out towards the end. I tried rationing the good stuff by giving them Asclepias tuberosa (tender new growth and seedlings), but they turned their noses up at it! Some actually pupated earlier and became smaller butterflies rather than eat the stuff.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2010 at 12:13PM
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Angie, I actually don't know how many Monarchs I've raised this year; this is the first year that I haven't kept track of the numbers of any kind that I raise. My tropical milkweed didn't do well because of the drought and heat, but now it looks pretty nice...yeah, now that I don't really need it! :-O I think what I'll do is take a few dozen cuttings and keep them in the house in water over the winter. Hopefully most of them will root and then I'll have a jumpstart on the situation in the spring. I'll winter sow some seeds too just so I don't put all my eggs in one basket. It would be nice, though, if we wouldn't have the extremely hot weather that we've had this year, so then the plants should do well outside. On the other hand, if the hot weather is what brought all of these butterflies, then it's hard to say what kind of weather I want. Oh well, it will do what it wants anyway. Ha.

I'm trying to raise as many different kinds of butterflies as possible...it's lots of fun, and I really want to help them. I still have a few Monarchs nibbling on plants I have on our back porch. I have 3 that eclosed today that I'll release shortly. I also have some Wild Indigo Duskywings on the back porch in a storage container; I released one yesterday. I also have 30 plus BST cats that I'm feeding. It seems like every time I go outside I find some more. I haven't looked for a few days, so I think I'll make a little trip out there today. :)

It's insane the weather that we've been having...it's 88 right now and it's supposed to get up to 93 deg. today. That is real hot for this time of the year. I'm glad that starting tomorrow it's supposed to get down into the 70's where it belongs. I guess I shouldn't complain because I like summer more than winter. Planning the next year's garden seems to make the winter go faster though. I suppose it's been hot there too, huh?


    Bookmark   September 24, 2010 at 12:40PM
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Right now, we are winding up the monarch season with 6 3rd instar caterpillars and 38 chrysalises.

This is my first season raising butterflies, but it seems like it's been a great summer around here (a bit north of Cincinnati). We've been releasing since late June, and will total out at around 175 monarchs if most of our current chrysalises eclose.

I have noticed much more disease recently. We had 100% survival from egg to butterfly for our first 40 or 50 monarchs, and then started seeing assorted issues as the season went on.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2010 at 1:04PM
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fighting8r(10 Fort Myers Florida)

Yeah the heat and dry weather and sickly milkweed has not helped. Oh and all the mw bugs. Luckily I started some giant milkweed last fall and it is now providing food when I run out. Although I'd hoped the giant milkweed would be going stronger by now. Again, heat and dry. We've had more stretches of a week or two of no rain this summer, when we usually have rain EVERY day.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2010 at 1:15PM
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terrene(5b MA)

I just released my last Monarch today on this sunny, warm, and windy day. A healthy male who flew right up into the canopy of a Pin Oak. I will miss the Monarchs.

Your question prompted me to complete a spreadsheet, and today's realease makes a total of 52 Monarchs, with a preponderance of females - 34 females, 18 males. One pupa failed to eclose because I dropped it on the tile floor, or else it would have no doubt been 53. Aside from my clumsiness, there were no losses after 2nd instar and the butterflies have appeared to be very healthy up until the last release (clean abdomens, no problems emerging, hanging or flying). It was interesting to note that the cats that pupated in September took about 3 days longer to eclose than the ones that pupated in August.

Also released 16 or 17 Black Swallowtails, not sure of that total yet.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2010 at 2:13PM
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Well over 100 and still counting here. Praying we get a nice summery autumn on the eastern seaboard. Some are pupating right now...

    Bookmark   September 24, 2010 at 9:02PM
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bandjzmom(7 NWGeorgia)

Wow! It is really heartwarming and impressive to see what has been accomplished among these few people. Way to go y'all!! Congratulations on your accomplishments. Does anyone know about how many would have survived to adulthood in the wild. Out of 100 eggs laid, how many of them would actually survive to become adult butterflies?

    Bookmark   September 25, 2010 at 10:24AM
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KC Clark - Zone 2012-6a OH

We have been letting some monarchs go everyday but our biggest day was just five. One will eclose today. I think we are down to 3 chrysalises.

Had a lot of black death affecting mid-season chrysalises but fortunately it petered out. I've thrown out just one chrysalis in the last 6 weeks.

Swamp milkweed was the huge draw this year. Sullivant, common and tropical were WAY behind. Never found anything on our whorled. Second year I've had it and it has yet to flower.


    Bookmark   September 25, 2010 at 11:55AM
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Tony G(5a)

I should have kept a tally. This was a great year for Minnesota Monarchs. I collected my first eggs May 24 and was busy the entire summer...raised well over 100 and was lucky not to have any problems with disease. As of today, I have one chrysalis left that should eclose around Oct 2. I will miss the monarchs! Tony

I was disappointed not to find any BST eggs/cats but I have high hopes for attracting them next year!

    Bookmark   September 25, 2010 at 2:18PM
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jrcagle(z7 MD)

My numbers were down this year also. 33 adults so far, with 8 pupae and 8 cats in the pipeline. That's in contrast to 106 last year. The season started late, also. Save for one cat found in the wild, I didn't get cat nor egg until July 31, in contrast to my first eggs last year on 7/12/2009.

I only had two fatalities -- one from disease, one from "catterbalism." The main thing I've noticed is that growth is slower nowadays. Since the temperatures have remained high, I suspect that dry plants are to blame.

In other species news, Spicebush swallowtails are way up. I have 14 pupae in the cage ready to overwinter, with another 4 cats in the pipeline.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2010 at 2:22PM
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Jeff, your humor continues to amaze me - "catterbalism". ROTFLMAO!!!!

I have probably only raised about 40 select few that I harvested from the plants and left the rest to fend for themselves.

I'm surprised to hear that the Tropical Milkweed has not been growing well in hot conditions, as it is Tropical in nature, and should do better in the heat than the colder climate species. Despite our horrible heat this summer, add high humidity to that, the Tropical Milkweedm, Giant Milkweed, and Oscar milkweed, have done fantastic. My other milkweeds have suffered.

A couple of my eclosures were deformed or discolored, so I don't know what causes that.


    Bookmark   September 25, 2010 at 8:24PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

I had very early season and my busiest ever. Throughout July I was seeing Monarchs whenever I looked outside. I released about 35 with the last 6 in the past two weeks. Unfortunately, my milkweed has had a terrible infestation with aphids and I think the earlier butterflies left to find greener pastures. I haven't seen one flying in several weeks. My New England Aster has started to bloom now, so I'm hoping to attract migrating Monarchs to nectar.


    Bookmark   September 26, 2010 at 6:43PM
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I've just now seen my first Monarch since we moved to Tupelo last Dec! I had been only a learner a couple of years ago with help from this site when declining health caused my husband and me to sell our home
of many years (3 acres of woods and lake)and move to be closer to one of our children. We are in a small city with neighbors on either side, but Natchez Trace Parkway land behind us. There was nothing to welcome butterflies!

There was a big back yard with an an above ground pool and one tree. We had pool removed and that area transformed into a patio garden with a stone wall across the back (high) side, dropping to a lower level in front. Slowly it is coming together and I had A curassavica waiting when I finally saw a Monarch Saturday. She spent lots of time on puple butterfly bush and finally made her way to A. curassavica. She went to blooms first and then I noticed we had 3 seed pods. She kept dropping down to the bottlom of the plant where a lot of new growth was appearing and I thought I saw her lay several eggs. Sure enough I found 3 and there may be more. The fun has begun!

I've also had Common Buckeye cats on my snap dragon, but don't know what became of them. The flowers were in a large pot with no protection nearby. What can I plant to protect cats? Are there small trees or shrubs, perhaps some kind of vines; got suggestions? Area is a circle with a diameter of about 30'.

Suggestions appreciated, Sylvia

    Bookmark   September 26, 2010 at 10:54PM
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heykid(8, San Antonio)

I have close to 30 in my hatchery. Left this morning for church and visit with relatives came home about 7:00PM to find five have eclosed in the hatchery. I plan to turn them loose in the AM. By then maybe more of the batch of 8 that I placed in the hatchery at the same time will be ready as well. My method for releasing them is to capture one at a time in a two quart jar then transport them out doors. This is the first time I have hatched so many at one time so I'm not sure what is going to happen when I open the doors to the hatchery in the AM. For now I have turned off the LED lights and hope they all rest through the night. Looks like one of them lost part of one wing while hatching out. Stil have five large cats and two small cats on the milkweed plants outside. I just collected 10 more pupated monarchs but I'm going to hold off putting them into the hatchery for a few days so things don't get any more complicated than it already is. Picked up three young fennal plants from the nursery to day and I'm going to try to winter the plants over in one of my greenhouses so I'm ready for spring swallow tails. Much easier than the monarchs. At least with the BST I had a little notice they were ready to come out. the monarchs gave me no hint at all that they were ready. It may have something to do with my light timer that cycles on for fourteen hours then off for ten hours. Still on a learning curve here...


    Bookmark   September 27, 2010 at 1:17AM
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Tony G(5a)

heykid, in the warmth of summer while there's more light monarchs typically hatch between about 630am and 930am...once it starts cooling down and there's less light, their hatching schedule changes to the same as your cable guy... 9am- 3pm (what I've found here in Minnesota, anyway)

As far as releasing them, it's easy to get them to crawl on your finger. I usually place them on a nectar plant...make sure they can still hang down if the wings aren't fully dry.

BTW- could you explain your "hatchery"? Thanks, Tony

    Bookmark   September 27, 2010 at 8:32PM
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heykid(8, San Antonio)

My hatchery is actully a base cabinate my husband bought from Lowes. He lined it with plastic and placed a small computer fan if the back wall and an exhaust fan that is controlled by a thermostat set to pull an extra batch of fresh air in when the inside temp goes above 80 degrees. Both fans have gaurds on them so the butterflys can't get out or hurt by the fan blades while the fans are running. He put a top shelf that holds three LED flood grow lights set on an adjustable timer. The lights are really cool. The can burn all day long and are still cool to the touch and use less electricity than a 20 watt regular light bulb. He orginally made it for displaying some of our smaller orchid plants in orchid shows we go to. It got too heavy to haul around so he converted it for cats when I first started hatching out BST's. We used a glue gun to glue two key rings to each side wall and we streach the pupated cats on the string by using a small piece of paper with a tiny hole in the middle of it then a dab of hot glue on the suspension string the cats used to mount themselves on the plants with. It keeps the preditors away from eating them while they are pupated. Turned 12 monarchs loose today. There were two that managed to tear their wings when they exclosed. Can't save them all I guess. Stil have 19 more on the string, some I expect will eclose tonight. Still have four more on the outdoor plants two them have started pupating today. I leave them set for a full day after they pupate so it makes them easier to handle for the mounting process. Most of the ones I turned loose today stayed in the area all day. What a beautifull sight!

    Bookmark   September 28, 2010 at 1:13AM
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bandjzmom(7 NWGeorgia)

Again, congratulations and thanks to each of you who has given of your heart and your time to help the Monarchs. It's an awesome thing indeed! My Monarch eclosures are all done now, and of the 80 chrysalides I had hanging, 77 of them eclosed and were released. Not the 95 I had last year, but still a nice contribution. Every little bit counts. ;o)

    Bookmark   September 28, 2010 at 7:20AM
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