The monarchs are eating all my milkweed.

heykid(8, San Antonio)September 16, 2010

My count of Monarch cats have managed to de-folinate three of my plants! The cats are extra large it seems to me. So far only two of them are starting to pupate but I have at least a couple dozen more that are still growing. I fear by the time the smallest one of them gets large enough to pupate ther wont be anything for them to eat. Any sugestion of a suplumental food source for the cats would be greatly appriciated. I don't want to loose any of them.

Plus I just watched another female deposit more eggs. Is there such a things as food stamps for starving cats???

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heykid, they can go through milkweed pretty quick when they get to be bigger cats! Well, I've got a few eggs just hatched...might be Queens, not sure. I might be able to pick up some of your cats later to bring home if no more eggs appear on my milkweeds. Those cats only eat milkweeds, unfortunately. The only other cat I have right now is one Buckeye.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2010 at 3:51AM
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bandjzmom(7 NWGeorgia)

It is a perpetual problem with Monarch rasiers everywhere. Those cats are piggies for sure. You cannot imagine them eating as much as they do, even when you know from past experience that it is going to happen. I have a couple of suggestions. You can look for milkweed growing wild if you think you'd have a chance of finding any. You can also check with your local nurseries to see if they have any Tropical milkweed or Butterfly weed. I did find some nice Tropical Milkweed plants at my local Lowe's Garden center last fall about this time. The plants would need to be carefully washed, but it would be worth a try. Otherwise, the bigger cats may go on ahead and pupate if the food source is depleted.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2010 at 6:59AM
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heykid(8, San Antonio)

New development:
Today I wwent out to check on the ones that had pupated four of them had done it and I had plan to go back outside to bring them into our indoor hatchery right after I finshed my shopping. Went I went back out a couple hours later, three of the pupated cats had apparantly been eaten by the remaining cats. In just a short time. At first I thought the other cats had eaten the leaves where the three had pupated but the plant was completely sealed from outsiders and the leaves and the pupated cats were gone.... I managed to save a small one. The thing is there are still plenty of leaves for them to eat on. Why turn on each other? I'm just heart sick over the whole thing. After all my efforts to save them and now they are starting to eat each other.... the one that I saved had pupated on the netting that covered the plant....


    Bookmark   September 17, 2010 at 11:20PM
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bandjzmom(7 NWGeorgia)

Well, if the Monarch chrysalides were outside, I would guess that some other critter snatched them for a meal. I have personally never had Monarch cats eat a Monarch chrysalis. Unfortunately, out there in the wild, they make good food for other creatures no matter which stage of development they are in. I had a Black SWT chrysalis inside a (what I thought was well protected) container on my porch, and some creature snuck inside through a small gap and got it.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 8:51AM
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fighting8r(10 Fort Myers Florida)

All you can do is try, and if you bring more milkweed and leave it outside, you will have more cats...
Oh and they will not eat other cats or chrysalids, but lots of other stuff will. It is a sick feeling when you watch and worry over them for so long only to find that they've been nabbed. I take comfort in the fact that my efforts result in more bflies, even though I can't protect them all!

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 9:46AM
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heykid, It's a shame that our enjoyment of raising butterflies can also come with sadness and stress. Try to remember that you are giving them a way better chance of survival than if they were on their own.

A suggestion for when you are running out of food for your cats: Contact your local garden club and ask if any of their members are growing your host plants. I've done this when I was running out of pipevine and milkweed. Several members allowed me to bring cats and put them on their plants.

You're doing a good thing. Hang in there!

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 11:22AM
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You have them inside some kind of "sleeves" on outdoor plants, right? I've done that on occasion. Well, unfortunately the large Monarch cats have been known to eat the other cats...usually much smaller cats. And I've heard of them munching on the chrysallises, too. I live in the S.A. general area. If you'd like an extra potted milkweed or would like me to take some cats to raise, let me know. Click on my "my page" to go to my page and my real email is listed under contact. Let me know! I have 5 tiny Monarch cats myself, but should have plenty of milkweed!

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 2:38PM
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My wife and I are obsessed with making a butterfly garden. Last year we bought milkweed after milkweed only to have the catapillars devour them. After a while the nurseries no longer carried them. I noticed however that many seed were dispensed. I collected as many as I could and this year I am growing 50 plants indoors over the winter. Obsessed enough. I am thinking of putting them out gradually. I'm thinking that the more plants the fatter the cats become. I am putting some in the ground and building a small greenhouse to keep the catapillars away from the back up milkweed. How else can you make a butterfly garden?

    Bookmark   December 15, 2013 at 12:51PM
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bernergrrl(z5 IL)

Hi there, Sounds like you have a good plan for your Monarch caterpillars when they come again.

You didn't state your location, but with butterfly gardens we hope to attract a lot of species that are native to our yards.

Once you know what could potentially come through your yard, then you can start to learn what their host plants are (these are the plants that caterpillars have to eat; Monarchs eat milkweeds, fritillaries eat violets, and so one).

Another very important piece of the pie is nectar plants. This can also take some research, but if we know your area, then it's easier to tell you what is good to plant.

Plants that are native to your area are a really good investment--most of the are host plants to many different kinds of butterlies and moths, are good nectar plants, and produce seeds for birds.

Our page here has a FAQ section which is the first thing I should have mentioned. :)

Gardening practices are very important too--no pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and butterfly gardens call for different fall clean-up strategies as most of our butterflies & moths overwinter in some form.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2013 at 5:22PM
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I am starting to plant more host plants for the monarchs. the problem is that the caterpillars eat them faster than they can grow new leaves;-) so the next plan is to grow them inside the screened area of my backyard. oh yes, the monarch mamas do come everyday to lay eggs. I have to grow more nectar plants because I have resident gulf frits, Chinese swallowtails, orange sulfur, and cabbage whites. its fun:-)

    Bookmark   December 15, 2013 at 5:50PM
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I'm having real good luck planting milkweed indoors. The plants are l hardy. As I said before I'm planning on putting them out gradually in the spring so I don't run out of milkweed. I'm a little worried about planting too many in the ground. The scatter seeds all over. I'm pretty sure they're terribly invasive. If you're by San Diego and you see a guy swinging a machete in the front yard that will be me.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2013 at 12:01PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

Do you know what species of milkweed you are growing? If it is Asclepias curassavica, because it is perennial in your area, it can harbor the OE spores, which cause a highly infectious illness in Monarchs. Research is ongoing re how best to manage or limit the spread, but many are recommending that A. curassavica be trimmed back to the ground in areas that it over winters. That way, when the new Monarchs come through on their migration north, they encounter fresh, un-contaminated plants to raise the next generation on. That will hopefully limit the spread of the disease into northern gardens. OE is less of a problem in the north in the early summer, because our native milkweeds naturally die back for the winter and re sprout with fresh leaves in the spring. But, as soon as a contaminated butterfly lands on a native plant, the spread continues.


    Bookmark   December 28, 2013 at 9:52AM
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