Monarch caterpillars, advice needed


addy1

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I know a bunch of you save the caterpillars.

I need advice. I just looked at the plants, they are low on leaves, covered with aphids and around 20 plus caterpillars.

From big to small. I have never seen this many on the plants.

Should I try to save them? I have bee package cages that can be converted to caterpillar growth cages. I have never done this, no clue where to start.

I have other milkweed leaves, not swamp, I can harvest to help them out.

What do you all think?
 
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mrsclem

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Hey Addy- just posted on my butterfly thread. I'm wondering the same thing! So far the favorite seems to be the tropical milkweed but there are some on the native as well as the swamp milkweed. I'm just not sure there are enough plants for all these guys and I have a dozen female monarchs still laying eggs! Don't need 60-70 house pests- I mean pets!
 

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Nice of you to try and save them. I haven't a clue on what to do tho.
 

addy1

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lol the plants they are on are almost out of leaves. I could move them to the other milk weeds we have.
 
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I recall reading a couple of years ago about a restoration project that involved planting milkweed to help the butterflies. Unfortunately, it turned out to be the wrong type and was either harmful or was not the type the butterflies could use. Anyway, you might want to search and see the type of milkweed butterflies need. Here is one story about the project: http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2015/01/plan-save-monarch-butterflies-backfires
Anyway, just thought it might be helpful information.
Stephen
 

addy1

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They are on swamp milkweed which they love. I don't have any of the tropical milkweed mentioned in the article. All of mine grows and dies every winter. But comes back in the spring.

Think it is called butterfly weed, butterfly milk weed. Looks like this, not my picture



This one is my plant
20180618_110040.jpg


20180618_105903.jpg


I can move some of the caterpillars to these plants to give them more food.
 

addy1

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They are not blooming right now, but have healthy leaves.
 
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I got an alert this week . Ohio is doing their annual milk weed seed collection. Project is called Ohio pollinators habitat initiative. Any questions people can phone 937-404-3150. From what I have heard and seen, swamp weed and milkweed are often confused with swamp smartweed.
 
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Should I try to save them? I have bee package cages that can be converted to caterpillar growth cages. I have never done this, no clue where to start.
Curious as to why you would have to save them . This my second season with native plants including butterfly weed and swamp milk weed. Like you I have a bunch of small to large size caterpillars chomping away at the leaves . Last year they were only on the swamp millk weed and ate all the leaves leaving bear stems . Not sure what happened to the caterpillars after they ran out of food. The plants this year are significantly bigger . So us their survival concerns do to lack food, shelter or predators
 
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Unfortunately I don't have more plants to transfer the caterpillars to. Hopefully they don't run out of food before entering their next stage
 

mrsclem

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I have 2 beds of milkweed gone so far. No sign of them going to next stage yet. Not sure if they will stay on milkweed or maybe move to other plants.
 

addy1

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They are stripping mine also, problem is where the plants are there is not a lot for them to go and eat, unless they like lilies, land lilies.
 
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I know someone who will put them in the plastic shoe boxes with vent holes drilled and screen glue to the top so they have somewhere to hang. She picks milkweed leaves and puts in the box with the caterpillars. Found this from the University of Minnesota, https://monarchlab.org/biology-and-research/monarch-rearing/making-a-rearing-cage/
Good luck. I had a couple on the wild milkweed in the yard but they were gone when i looked today.
 

addy1

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Thanks you all. I have sort of decided to let them do what they do. I am going to plant more of the milkweed for the bugs next year. I checked yesterday, the big ones have moved on the small ones are still munching.
 

mrsclem

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A couple of my full size ones are now attached and hanging so cocoons soon. 3 beds of milkweed gone and the deer came in last night and chewed down the weeds! I guess its true that the native plants are deer resistant.
 
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mrsclem

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I did some research and found the adult caterpillars will eat pumpkin and cucumbers! Too early for pumpkin but going to try the cucumbers. Butternut squash also works
 
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