Raising Monarchs

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OK, I have milkweed plants. The first one showed up 2 years ago, so this is the 3rd year I have had them, and they are multiplying. I am going to move them, but right now they are in my front flower bed. I know that monarchs need this plant to survive, so I chose to leave them. Their flowers are the most aromatic of any plant I have ever had, rivaling lilacs even.
Anyhow, I spotted 3 different teeny tiny (1/4" long) monarch caterpillars 2 nights ago, and people asked if I was going to "rear them inside". Nope, let nature do it's thing, I said.
Next night, last night, I went looking for them, found none. :(
So, tonight, encouraged to look often, I found 7 of them! I think these are all brand new babies, as they are as tiny as the ones two nights ago.
I cut off the leaves they were each on, and put the ends of the leaf stem in water in a cup covered with sarah wrap to keep the babies out of the water.
Here's one of the 7 babies I "saved" tonight.
monarch infant caterpillar.JPG

To give you an idea of size, here he is with the tip of an ink pen next to him.
size comparison monarch caterpillar.JPG

And, this is the 10 gallon aquarium that I have them in. I have paper towel on the top, before the screen lid, so they can't escape and die. It will be easy to rear them, or so I have been told. They eat milkweed - I have plenty of plants in various stages of maturity. They grown for 2 weeks until they change to the chrysalis. Once in this chrysalis stage, they will remain there for 2 weeks then emerge as a full grown monarch butterfly!
New habitat for raising monarchs.JPG

I will add twigs to the inside for the caterpillars to climb on and then form their chrysalis on the branches or the top screen.
I plan to post pics often of their progress. I hope I do a good job, and they all live!
 
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Mmathis

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Monarch Mommy!

Do you know what variety of milkweed you have? I have "swamp milkweed," so I can use it as a bog plant. The leaves look very much different from your plants. Also, mine haven't produced any flowers yet :( so I don't know if the plants have to be a certain "age" before they flower......
 
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Hey CE, Good luck with your catapillers. My neighbor grows a lot of milkweed and we get monarch catapillers too. I just put one catapiller in a jar with the milkweed leaf and when that one is eaten I put in another leaf. The only thing is if you forget to add one the catapillers will run out of food and die. When its time to release them I take the cover off and they fly away!
 
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MM I have both the common milkweed and the swamp milkweed that a friend grew from seeds. The SM was given to me last year, and did not bloom. It is, however, blooming very nicely this year. I don't notice any pretty smell from that plant, but the butterflies and other bugs sure do like it. Never thought about putting it in my bog!!!
Here is the common milkweed plant and seed pod. I'm saving seeds to give away, so PM me if you would like some seeds. I'll forget otherwise! They are easy to grow, and once you have a plant, it will spread by runners underground, so beware. They have deep roots, so if you find some in the road ditches, plan to bring a full sized shovel to get the roots.
common milkweed plant.JPG
common milkweed seed pod.JPG

Then, this is the Swamp Milkweed, flower and then full plant. As I said, this plant doesn't seem to have the pretty smell like the common milkweed, which IMO rivals lilacs or honeysuckle! It's WONDERFUL!!! Hope this helps. And, thanks for tipping me off on the "swamp" milkweed going into the bog. Duh ... the name says it all. :)
Swamp milkweed flower.JPG

Swamp milkweed plant.JPG
 

Mmathis

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WOW! CE, that is one BIG plant! The leaves remind me of Magnolia leaves. I will PM you as I would like seeds. I've GOOGLED "common milkweed" recently, and they say it is especially good for the early-on-the-scene Monarchs as it tends to leaf out and bloom earlier than most. And yes, the articles did warn about the invasive root system, and also that it doesn't transplant well, so seeds would be great. I can't seem to find vendors who sell bare-root or potted plants.

Wish my swamp MW would bloom! The plants are getting taller by the day, but I see no evidence of budding :(

And good luck with raising the babies! Keep us posted on the progress!
 
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Wow I didn't realized common milkweed is that tall!! I have plants that just came up around our land and I thought it's milkweed but now after seeing the picture Im not so sure I have milkweed. I'll have to go out and take a look again...
 
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I realized that too but I always thought I have common milkweed and what I have is way smaller than the picture. No flower on them right now though, so can't be sure.
 
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We were in a local forest preserve over the weekend and it was LOADED with milkweed - a number of varieties. So good to see... and sniff!
 

Mmathis

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I realized that too but I always thought I have common milkweed and what I have is way smaller than the picture. No flower on them right now though, so can't be sure.
http://www.livemonarch.com/growinginstructions.htm

Whoa! I just read this info and they state there are over 160 varieties of milkweed! I knew there were a lot, but never knew there were that many. They also recommend [and I've read this in other places, as well] using a "tropical" milkweed variety if necessary, and if you live in more southern climates. Sometimes that will grow as a perinneal. So yours could be a variety that is very similar to the "common," or could be a "common," but looks different due to different growing conditions......different soil make up, sun exposure, etc.

And I also didn't know that 1 Monarch caterpillar (one!!!) can eat up to 20+ large MW leaves! Hungry babies! @CountryEscape Are you prepared for all those little hungry appetites? Chomp, chomp, chomp!
 

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[QUOTE="CountryEscape, post: 277469, member: 3087"Their flowers are the most aromatic of any plant I have ever had, rivaling lilacs even.[/QUOTE]

You are absolutely right about its aroma. I was walking with my mom recently and she is a huge fan of the lilac smell. I told her about the Common Milkweed scent being nearly the same as lilac, but I'd say an even stronger smell. We found a patch while walking and sure enough, she agreed. She was surprised. That alone started to change her opinion about it being a weed. They've got a great smell. That's something most milkweed enthusiasts often forget to mention, because there are so many other great things about them.

As far as bringing monarch caterpillars indoors, I've also considered bringing them in, but I would feel pretty guilty if they died. Although, last year I had two caterpillars and both disappeared when they were small. If I decide to bring some inside, it'll have to wait until more of my plants mature, so I know I'll have enough food to bring in for them. I haven't seen any caterpillars in my gardens yet this year.

Also, if you don't have Asclepias tuberosa (Orange Milkweed) I would highly recommend it. I don't think I've ever seen a brighter orange flower. A photo can't show off how bright the flowers can get. It stays smaller than other milkweeds, around 2 feet tall. It's in my top 5 favorite plants.

IMG_1400 (2) copy.jpg
 

JBtheExplorer

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Wow I didn't realized common milkweed is that tall!! I have plants that just came up around our land and I thought it's milkweed but now after seeing the picture Im not so sure I have milkweed. I'll have to go out and take a look again...
While you're out there, take a photo too so we can see it!
 

addy1

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I have a lot of the orange milkweed, planted by me and now seeding itself here and there. Love the color
 

JBtheExplorer

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@JBtheExplorer @addy1 The orange is lovely! Are the monarchs equally attracted to it?
I'm not sure, to be honest, I have a feeling the larger milkweeds are bigger attractors, but it is a milkweed, so if you plant it, they will come. Not to mention it's a just great looking plant in general to have around a garden or pond.
 
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