Preventing Monarch Leg Injuries -- Need Advice

tpolonyOctober 8, 2013

I'm having problems with Monarch legs -- somehow they're getting injured, on occasion, when I'm forced to feed them due to weather problems.

I've always tried to be as gentle as possible when I get them from their mesh tent. Rather than just pluck them off without warning, I stick my finger near them, follow them around with it if necessary, until they willingly get on my finger. Then I gently lift them from my finger so that I can put them down in front of the feeding station. When they're done, I'm just as paranoid about lifting them off to put them back in.

Despite all of this, I'm finding that some go back in the tent with what seem to be newly-acquired injuries. A hook might have fallen off, or they drag a leg, or the leg is pointing weirdly, mostly the bottom joint, and they can move it, but with difficulty and it's obvious they can't really get it to do what they want.

I don't have this happen a lot, but even once is too much. But just in the past few days, I had 2 situations like this, and I absolutely cannot understand how it happened.

So now I wonder: Is the "sudden plucking" method better? You hold onto their wings and just pluck 'em off without warning? I always figured that was dangerous, maybe their hooks would fall out or it would wrench their legs. But maybe putting my finger under them and waiting for them to get all 4 legs on there is causing some sort of stress on one of the legs, particularly when 3 legs are on and I'm waiting for the 4th to join them.

What have you all found to be successful? For those of you who currently use the "quick pluck" method or have used it in the past, did you have any trouble with it?

I feel so bad, today I had to release one that was fine until I fed him. Luckily it was a back leg, but still, I'm trying to help them and I hate it when something like this happens. I absolutely dread having to feed them for this reason only, and it shouldn't have to be that way.

Thanks for any advice.

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Personally I use the same method that you do and I have not had any problems with it so far. Granted I am new to raising butterflies so I have not had a huge number of opportunities to actually screw up and also the fact that I haven't had to force feed yet.
One time I had a monarch that absolutely would not get on my finger and so I tried to pull him off of the netting and I could feel that he really had a good grip on the screen. Due to this I find it hard to believe that the quick pluck method is any safer if not more dangerous to the butterfly. But, like I said, I am new to raising butterflies, this is my first year. I have only released like 15 monarchs this year. So I am interested to hear everyone elses opinions and personal experiences on this subject since I am sure we all want to be as gentle as possible to are little babies:)

    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 9:34PM
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wifey2mikey(7a Tulsa, OK)

I've never even tried to force feed them. If you are injuring them I wonder if there would really be any merit in force feeding them or just letting them be. In weather situations, I usually let them climb on my finger and then take them to the garden and put them on a plant that I know they enjoy or on a branch of a small tree above the flowers. I've raised about 150 this year.


    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 8:06AM
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