Raising Monarchs

Discussion in 'Garden Pond Photography' started by CountryEscape, Jul 11, 2015.

  1. CountryEscape

    CountryEscape

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    I use a small coffee cup, put two layers of saran wrap on top, rubber band to hold the sarah, and poke a hole in the top for the stem of the milkweed or leaf. I have learned that cutting off the very top of a milkweed plant is best when the cats are larger, like 1" or so. That gives them more leaves to eat before I have to change it. If you have an egg or tiny baby on a leaf, and don't want the whole stem and all, cut the bottom of the leaf back so there is at least 2" of stem on the leaf, and put it in the water. Using wet paper towels wrapped in saran or foil works, but only for a day or so. The leave/stem needs to be in water if possible. I have mine in a 10 gallon aquarium, and if I get many more cats, I'll be putting them into my empty 55 gallon. :) I raised 42 cats last year, and this year I have a total of 3 in chrysalis so far, and 8 more in all stages. That's doable in a 10 gallon, but if I bring in the "beast" 55 gal, I'll have much more room to make sure to keep the tiny babies separate from the larger ones, as the larger ones might eat the leaf the baby is on, and eat the baby, too!
    Good luck!!!
     
    CountryEscape, Sep 11, 2016
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  2. CountryEscape

    Nepen

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    Thanks!

    The ones on the wall still not moving. I'm thinking I might lose them :cry: those are the big ones.
     
    Nepen, Sep 11, 2016
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  3. CountryEscape

    Nepen

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    Question: it's going to be fall soon. What will happen when the cats turn to monarch butterfly in fall? I'm in NC. I found some new eggs. Aren't that a bit late for them to be here
     
    Nepen, Sep 11, 2016
  4. CountryEscape

    CountryEscape

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    If you found eggs and want to raise them, go for it. I have released monarchs in October with no problem. The way I see it, they will grow in the luxury of our homes, instead of outside in the heat/cold/rain/wind, so they are very strong when they emerge and can take on just about anything. If left outside, they will probably never make it, simply due to other obstacles that they face.
    And, there are lots of reasons monarchs don't make it. Don't beat yourself up about it. If you have two that are lethargic, don't seem to be progressing or growing to full size, it's nature. The main thing with raising them is to keep their food supply fresh. Baby cats can eat on the same leaves (again, I usually cut off a stem with 3-6 leaves on it) for 4-5 days, as long as the leaves are in water and stay fresh. The larger cats can easily go through 2 full leaves (I'm talking common milkweed, with leaves that are large) in a day each! I'm having a heck of a time keeping the cats separate with their own food source. The only reason I'm doing this is because I want the ones hatched on common milkweed to stay on that, not switch, otherwise I have to keep track on what I need to bring inside.
    Surprise ... well to me it was ... I have 3 baby cats now! There must have been an egg I was not aware of on one of the leaves, so now I have an extra baby! My number is up to 11 - 4 in chrysalis, one in "J" form tonight, so will be chrysalis tomorrow, 3 tiny babies (they sure grow slow the first few days) one medium sized cat and another large cat. I also have released one monarch over a month ago. So, my year has been very late this year! Last year, I had released probably 20 by this time, and was working on my second group, for a total of 42 released.
    I just figure, any I raise and release are that many more that I know made it at least to butterfly stage.
    Next year I want to grow host plants for black swallowtail butterflies - dill, fennel, rue, queen anne's lace to name a few. I tired this year, but weeds took over the area. Next year I will plant these things in areas when I can keep a closer watch on weeds.
     
    CountryEscape, Sep 12, 2016
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  5. CountryEscape

    JBtheExplorer Native Gardener

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    No, not late at all considering how far south you are in comparison to me. There are still Monarch caterpillars in my area and the Monarch Butterflies will still be around here well into October.


    Queen Anne's Lace IS a weed!
     
    JBtheExplorer, Sep 12, 2016
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  6. CountryEscape

    CountryEscape

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    LOL, a weed is only a weed if it is where someone doesn't want it. :) I want the queen anne's lace for the swallowtails, so it's welcome in my wild flower patch. :)
    Nepen, here is how I have my stuff set up. Everyone makes changes to what suits their own needs, and this has worked for me, although I'm going to bring in my big 55 gallon aquarium tomorrow night, I have too many in this small 10 gallon, can't get in and clean and refresh it very easy.
    I gather common milkweed stems and leaves for food.
    1 MW leaves.JPG
    Then I trim off the bottom part of the leaf so that there is enough stem to fit down into the water.
    2 trimmed leaves.JPG
    I use a small coffee mug, put saran wrap (I use 2 layers to make it more sturdy) on top and use a rubber band to keep it from falling off.
    3 cup with saran wrap.JPG
    Then add the milkweed, making sure to keep the stems always in water. They are like a Christmas tree, they suck up the water pretty fast, needing to add to the cup almost daily. I use a baster to put water down the holes in the saran to refill in between refreshing the leaves.
    4 MW in water.JPG
    My set up in the 10 gallon aquarium looks like this from above, with the wire mesh top off.
    5 cups in aquarium.JPG
    I have a wire mesh top that the cats usually climb up to and hang in a "J" before turning into a chrysalis.
    6 monarch cat in J form.JPG 6 chrysalis.JPG
    A view of the aquarium from the side. Tonight I found 5 more small cats on my swamp milkweed, so I had to add another cup. I'm overloaded, so that's why I will be setting up the 55 gal tomorrow evening. Need to figure out a way to cover it, that will be easy to remove often to refresh leaves, and add more cats, and remove butterflies when they eclose!
    7 set up.JPG
     
    CountryEscape, Sep 14, 2016
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  7. CountryEscape

    Nepen

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    Wow @CountryEscape Thanks so much for the pics! Now it makes more sense. How long do you think the leaves last once it got cut and put in water like that?

    I have just a small bug box. I dont have a lot of milkweed (only a few plants) so I have to be careful or i'll run out before the cats turn!

    How do you change the leaves? Mine always have some cats on it and I couldnt just pick up the cats to the new leaves. Do you do clean up often?
     
    Nepen, Sep 14, 2016
  8. CountryEscape

    CountryEscape

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    I SHOULD clean the paper towels up every other day at least, but I've been doing it every 3 days or so lately. It's hard, since my container is too crammed with leaves! Put down either newspaper or paper towels, or do like me and do both. I cut the paper towels so that I can peel off a couple of layers each time I clean up.
    To add leaves to existing cats, add a second leaf to the same hole where the last leaf is. The cat will move over to the fresher leaf, and then you can remove the old one. I don't like to touch the cats unless necessary, especially the tiny babies. They always move on their own, as long as the leaves are close and preferable touching.
    If you have milkweed in your yard, then I'll bet there is some in the road ditches or fields near you. If you run out, drive around until you find some growing wild, and harvest from that plant! I have a big patch of milkweed, compliments of a bird dropping the first seed. I have had them in my front flower bed for 3 or 4 years now, and there are over 30 plants that come up. Need to move them to the wild flower area ... some day .... :)
    The leaves will last at least 2 days, maybe longer. If you find a young patch of milkweed where you can cut the tops off the plant, stem and all, and have multiple leaves on a stem in the water, they last even longer. A large cat will eat a large milkweed leaf in a day, but by the time they are eating that much, they will so pupate to the chrysalis, and then you are done feeding that one.
    Patti
     
    CountryEscape, Sep 15, 2016
  9. CountryEscape

    Nepen

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    Thanks!

    Is it normal to saw some new hatchling in the morning and they are gone in the evening?

    I just change new leaves and I peeled off every old crumple leaves and still couldn't find the 3 new babies I saw this morning. I looked EVERYwhere. I gave up after an hour of eye crossing staring the old leaves and surrounding area for them.

    Now I can only accounted for 4 :(

    I found shallow round plastic container with lid that fit my bug container so I use those and poke holes inthe lid to put the leaves in. it's about 1.5 inches tall so it's perfect for me.


    I don't think I'll see some around. All places are developed into new houses. I walked around state park nearby and couldn't find one. I should take my swamp milkweed seeds there ;) my common milkweed seed pods are still not ready to be harvested. I may be should take those (once ready) to spread around the ground under that big electric pole/ grid thing too. Where we are they let those section go wild with weed and wild flowers, why not add milkweed, right? ;)
     
    Nepen, Sep 15, 2016
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  10. CountryEscape

    Nepen

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    Nepen, Sep 17, 2016
  11. CountryEscape

    CountryEscape

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    Yes, it's VERY hard to relocate the babies once you spot them. They move farther than you think they will. I had a medium sized one die today, no idea why, first one to die for me this year. I think I had 2 or so die last year. I should be having some eclosing (emerging from chrysalis) maybe this weekend!
    Yes, if you have an area nearby that is not mowed near electric poles, take some milkweed seeds out there this fall, put them down on the ground and pray they grow next year. Last year, I took a whole common milkweed seed pod that was ripe and ready to burst, and put all the seeds under the mulch in my front flower bed. This year, there were probably 50 plants that came up in that one spot. I realize that was ideal conditions (no weeds or grass to compete with) but still! I'll be doing that again, but this time where I want them to grow, in my wild flower area. :)
     
    CountryEscape, Sep 17, 2016
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  12. CountryEscape

    CountryEscape

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    I have tropical milkweed that I am growing for the first time this year, and it's definitely going to be a favorite for me in coming years. Someone in northern IL said that this will come back yearly, so I'm leaving the plants to see, but am collecting seeds as well. I grew these from seed this spring, and plopped out 3 chunks of seedlings in this patch. The monarchs LOVE the flowers, and I have found lots of cats on the leaves.
    tropical milkweed patch.JPG
    I see monarchs on the flowers every morning and evening on work days, all day long on the weekends. Enjoy!
    monarch 3.JPG monarch 7 better.JPG monarch 8.JPG
    This next picture is a male monarch. See the two black dots on his lower wings? That indicates a male. Lots of seed pods on these plants. monarch male .JPG monarch on tropical MW.JPG
    Two monarchs in this photo. monarchs 2 4.JPG
     
    CountryEscape, Sep 18, 2016
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  13. CountryEscape

    Lisak1

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    We have tropical milkweed that re-seeds annually here too, but the plants never get big. Lots of small seedlings, some flowers, but never more than 12-15 inches high.
     
    Lisak1, Sep 18, 2016
  14. CountryEscape

    JBtheExplorer Native Gardener

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    Looks like Monarch migration has begun. I've been seeing a lot more activity the past few days, and there are currently seven in the yard right now. They really like the Smooth Oxeyes.
    IMG_2364 copy.jpg

    They also like the Mexican Sunflowers.
    IMG_2343 copy.jpg


    On Thursday, I saw five or six of them on a small patch of New England Aster while walking a trail. I'm growing that as well, but it's in its first year and probably won't bloom this year. Hoping to add more of that next year.
     
    JBtheExplorer, Sep 18, 2016
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  15. CountryEscape

    CountryEscape

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    Lisa, what color are the flowers of your tropical milkweed? A friend has yellow flowered ones, but mine are red/yellow together. Maybe they are different variety. I am saving seeds, and will have LOTS! I'd be happy to send you some, if you would like to try these. Maybe a different type!
    JB, yes, lots of people on my FB butterfly page are reporting the same thing, lots of butterflies in their yards, too. I've been seeing them for 2 months here, and probably seeing more at a time now. I have about 14 in different stages in my house, raising them. Lost a few as medium sized cats, not sure what happened, found one on the bottom and one attached to the side, but hanging dead. Otherwise the rest seem to be doing fine. 7 or 8 in chrysalis, should be eclosing soon, then the fun really begins!!!
     
    CountryEscape, Sep 19, 2016
  16. CountryEscape

    Lisak1

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    Mine are the yellow/red combination, too - so pretty! And this year we grew the Mexican sunflowers for the first time - big hit with the butterflies!
     
    Lisak1, Sep 19, 2016
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  17. CountryEscape

    addy1 water gardener / gold fish and shubunkins Moderator

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    None in my yard...............and I have plants for critters everywhere

    Would love some seeds @CountryEscape if you have some to spare
     
    addy1, Sep 19, 2016
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    Nepen

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    What do you do when the weather starting to be cold and you still have cats to care for? Do you release the monarch still? or do you leave the chrysalis outside so it'll be in there until next spring?
     
    Nepen, Sep 19, 2016
  19. CountryEscape

    JBtheExplorer Native Gardener

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    To my knowledge, Tropical Milkweed is only red & yellow.
    Many people confuse A. tuberosa for it, and there is a yellow cultivar of A. tuberosa called "Hello Yellow". Although I wouldn't be surprised if there is a cultivar of A. curassavica that is yellow, too.
     
    JBtheExplorer, Sep 19, 2016
  20. CountryEscape

    JBtheExplorer Native Gardener

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    The chrysalis would not be there until next Spring because it's only in the chrysalis for about ten days before it emerges as a butterfly. The colder weather is not really an issue because, as the weather cools and the Monarchs begin migration, eggs will no longer be laid. By the time we get to deadly cold weather, the majority of Monarchs will be down south.
     
    JBtheExplorer, Sep 19, 2016
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