HOW TO RAISE A MONARCH BUTTERFLY. PART II.

 finding-and-feeding-part-2

 

So you want to grow you own butterfly.  In a month.  From scratch.

O.K.  I can help you with that.

You’ll need a few things and a bit of information.  If you haven’t read “How to Raise a Monarch Butterfly Part 1” yet, do that first.

Things you need to make a home for your Monarch:

 

1. Any kind of clear blass bowl.

bowl

 

2. 2 way tape (optional)

tape

 

3.  Any kind of screen to cover the bowl (something like a splatter screen for cooking or a piece of windowscreen.

screen

 

CUT A PIECE OF SCREEN TO FIT OVER THE OPENING OF YOUR BOWL.

 

screen-on-bowl

 

RUN SOME 2 WAY TAPE AROUND THE RIM OF THE BOWL AND STICK THE SCREEN TO IT.

(this isn’t mandatory but the baby caterpillars are so small they can wiggle right out from between the screen and the glass if it isn’t stuck down)

4.  A Monarch Egg.

egg

 

You can find Monarch caterpillar eggs on milkweed plants.  There are different varieties of milkweed and what you find in your area of the world might look different than my milkweed that you see in this post.

The Monarch butterfly lays her eggs on the underside of the milkweed leaves so that’s where to look for them.  They’re TINY.

You will also need a supply of Milkweed. Monarchs only lay their eggs on Milkweed. This is because Monarch caterpillars only eat Milkweed. Something in it makes the caterpillar (and later the butterfly) poisonous to most of their predators. Genius, eh?  (or for my American friends “Genius, huh?“)

you can keep milkweed fresh in the house by cutting it and putting it in a glass of water.

If you don’t have any milkweed in your yard, go hunting around in the woods and side of the road.   Cut some and keep it in a vase at home.  Remember though, caterpillars eat A LOT when they get big so you’ll need to be able to replenish your milkweed every few days for a 2 week period.  If you can’t do this … don’t try to grow a Monarch.  It’ll croak on you.  And you will be a murderer.

O.K., now that you have a home and food source for your Monarch all you need is the egg.

Look on the underside of milkweed leaves for an egg.  They usually lay their eggs on the youngest, top leaves on the plant.

It’s a butterfly egg, so it’s stinkin’ small.  Watch for a white, egg shaped blob.

When you find a leaf with an egg, pinch the leaf off and bring it inside.  Keep the stem of the leaf in water until the egg hatches so the leaf doesn’t dry up.  If the leaf dries up, the egg will too.  (more information tomorrow on how to tell when your egg is about to hatch)

Up close, under a magnifying glass it looks like this.  It will be white.  If it looks dark yellow, the egg probably isn’t viable.

DSC_0471

You can also keep your eye out for an already hatched caterpillar. These are harder to find because the tiny baby ones are usually eaten by earwigs, birds or other bugs.

small

 

2-3 day old caterpillar in wild

This is partly why I raise Monarchs.  Take this into consideration … of the thousands of monarch eggs that have been laid on my milkweed over the years, I have never once seen a Monarch caterpillar mature into a butterfly outside.  Ever.  Only 2-3% of Monarchs ever make it to maturity in the wild.

ANY CHARA CTER HERE

So you have a better idea of what you’re looking for, here’s a quick video of a Monarch butterfly laying its eggs in my yard.

READ ON … 

 


 

13 Comments

  1. Kathleen says:

    Well I have discovered that the South African Milkweed has very narrow leaves, so I would have been looking under the wrong trees / bushes! Now I just have to wait a few months, and read the rest of your posts so that I am educated enough when the season rolls around! 🙂
    PS a piece of useless information – our ostriches eat milkweed without any effect.

    Have an awesome day / night!

    • Karen says:

      O.k here’s the real news … I didn’t know there were ostriches in South Africa for some reason! Trade you. We’ll take the ostriches and you can have our raccoons. 😉 ~ karen!

      • Jan in Waterdown says:

        Kathleen, don’t do it! Do. Not. Raccoons are cute but evil. I don’t know if ostriches are evil but I do know that they cannot hide the way raccoons do, well maybe just their heads, and they don’t have weirdly almost human hands that can open anything. Although, come to think of it, if we could con another country into taking them, I’m with Karen!

  2. Lynn says:

    I do not have milkweed in my yard sadly. I do have a problem with white moths though 🙁 . Dang things love the climber hubby planted beside house though:( . I so want to trash that plant as it is such a draw each an every year it is not funny 🙁 . An each year the moth ends up winning the battle in the end so frustrating. I only wish it was the Monarch then I would not mind …

  3. Karin in NC says:

    I love that you are doing this! My sister does it too – has for years – and I’ve always thought about it. This just might be the inspiration I needed.

    • Karen says:

      You should do it at least once Karin. It’s completely fascinating and not very much work at all for such a huge reward. 🙂 ~ karen!

  4. Jenifer says:

    OK, I’m hunting for my egg! Wish me luck….I will call him George and I will love him and pet him and squeeze him…..

    🙂

  5. Ronda says:

    the closest milkweed is in my neighbour’s front yard … will have to look for another source! Is milkweed easy to transplant?

    • Beth Jesch says:

      Home Depot sells milkweed plants, but buy way more than you think you would possibly need if they still have any in stock. It’s amazing how much they can eat.

  6. Alicia Cappola says:

    I just bought seeds for 3 varieties of milkweed and am going to dedicate a whole flower bed along the length of my house to them to see how it goes. I live in Washington state and I have not seen a monarch here since I moved here 13 years ago 🙁 I hope that I see some after getting a milkweed garden going!

    When you originally posted this several years ago I had dreams about butterflies and finding their eggs, but I never did anything. This time I am!!

  7. I don’t have monarchs here in BC – at least I’ve never seen any. Lots of other butterflies though. I love that you’re doing this!

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