The Monarch Project

Welcome to The Monarch Project. You are just one click away from learning about how to raise your own Monarch butterfly.  Well, technically there are 4 or 5 clicks, but that doesn’t have as good a ring to it.

In the past year the Monarch butterfly population has dropped by 90% because of pesticides, illegal logging in Mexico, poor weather and loss of habitat.  And probably a bunch of other sciency stuff I don’t understand.

The Monarch butterfly you remember chasing as a child (and perhaps as an adult … I’m not judging) has been in the middle of a bit of a controversy in the past couple of years.  Certain people wanted to have it added to the endangered species list, others refused to do it.

All you need to know is that they’re in trouble.  In the wild only 1-3% of Monarch butterflies ever make it to adulthood. They’re eaten by bugs, birds and other predators. This alone makes keeping the Monarch population alive difficult. Combined with their recent drop in population it makes it almost impossible.

But you can help them by raising your own Monarch butterfly! You can do it if you’re in the city, in the country, live in a house, an apartment, under a bridge or on a commune.

I’m not positive, but you can probably even do it if you’re in jail. Provided you get yard time and there’s some milkweed along the fence line.  If “Sue” tells you that’s her milkweed, then just leave the milkweed alone.  You can help the monarchs once you get on the outside and don’t have to worry about angering “Sue”.

Raising a Monarch butterfly is incredibly easy and completely fascinating. If you live in an area where you have seen Monarchs in the past, you can raise a butterfly and help them from becoming extinct.

It takes about one month from start to finish and it’s astonishing.  It’s a Stephen King novel all wrapped up in a chrysalis.

The Monarch Project is the page on my site that links to all of the posts you need to raise a Monarch as well as some extra videos of the different stages of the Monarch including hatching from it’s teeny, tiny egg.

If you want to try raising Monarchs this summer, this 5 part series has everything you need to know to do it and do it successfully.


 Part I




Part II



Part III


Part IV



Part V




Finally, read this post.  It shows an AMAZING video of a monarch caterpillar emerging from its egg.




I’m no expert, I’m just a gal feelin’ sorry for some butterflies.




  1. karen says:

    this monarch issue is personal to me. i presented the following information in a speech class. i selected the subject because, at the time, i’d recently bought my home (in december) and, come spring and summer, this was everywhere: black swallow wort. the ecological threat is real so, if you feel powerless against big business, fighting at the grass-roots level might be possible for you. something like this: stem the spread…or whatever your area problem is that affects something small and powerless.
    my neighbor’s (abandoned house) chain-link fence is completely covered in this mess (a commando project in reverse is a … what?). my property lot is the size of your community garden allotment and i’m paving over the yard because we also have a community garden. how do i get milkweed…just pull it up from the side of the road? i know, who cares. okay, i’ll do it.

  2. Claudia says:

    Hi Karen

    I love doing this. Started when my kids were little and again with my grandkids. I think I love doing it more than they do. We ended up raising 6 this summer. Seems every time I picked milkweed for feeding purposes more eggs hatched. The chrysalis is a beautiful piece of work! Always wonder where the gold comes from.

  3. Tammy S says:

    Hi Karen,
    Thank you for bringing this topic to everyone’s attention. When I was a kid, I used to raise at least one monarch caterpillar each summer. Sadly since I became an adult (many years ago), I have not raised very many – but I have definitely noticed a severe decline in the numbers of monarch butterflies. I have a few patches of milkweed that we have purposely left growing on my farm for just this purpose. On your urging, this past weekend my granddaughter and I went and gathered up 8 caterpillars of varying ages and have them in a jar along with lots of milkweed leaves.
    Did you know they will also eat (and lay eggs on) asclepias tuberosa (butterfly weed)? It is a close relative of the milkweed.
    Anyway, again thank you for this! And best of luck to everyone else too! (and I read you all the time – but never comment)

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Tammy! I think I did know that, but it because I have milkweed it slipped to the deep recesses of my mind. :) I have one final butterfly to go this year. It’s in the chrysalis stage. I love raising them, but I’ll be happy to see that portion of my kitchen counter again for the first time in months, lol. ~ karen!

  4. Tara says:

    Mmmmkay I have a question…

    One of my caterpillars went into his “J” last night and when I checked on him this morning rather than turning into a chrysalis he seems to have deflated and now a small creamy worm thing is pacing around the bottom of the container. Ewwwww. My caterpillar is looking pretty dead and I’m grossed out!
    Have you ever seen this before?!
    On the upside, I released my first monarch yesterday and it was amazing!
    Thanks Karen!
    Tara (Yo Homeboy Pant’s wife)

  5. Liss says:

    I love raising monarchs!! We’ve done it reach year since your original post. My sister and her kids as well as our friend raise them too. I’ve got a J hanging, which will probably be a chrysalis when I get home and another caterpillar fattening up. I am hoping I also have another egg about to hatch!! Thanks for inspiring us to do this awesome project!

  6. Carolyn says:

    As of this morning, we’ve got one chrysalis, one caterpillar hanging in “J” formation, and three more caterpillars that are busy getting big and fat! It has been a fascinating process for my whole family; we feel privileged to be able to witness it. Will definitely share photos of the big release!

  7. Pat says:

    5 yrs ago in Head Start my grandsons class had a kind volunteer who did this project and documented it with a small self published book. It had a huge effect on everyone who saw it especially the children. Congratulations on your project and I hope you make the whole five segments available to children in the classroom somehow.

  8. Candy says:

    Hey Karen, I just wanted to say that I received some monarch eggs/babies in the mail the other day because I haven’t seen a SINGLE monarch in 2 whole years! My girls are raising them (we ordered 10, but they must have sent us about 30) and they think it is just the neatest thing. There are quite a few websites where you can get monarch plants (tiny little seedlings) for $1, or seeds by simply making a donation. Our yard will be full of milkweed by next summer!

  9. Alice says:

    So, I found a monarch caterpillar the day you posted this, and am happy to tell you we released Rex (he’s a monarch, right?) on Sunday. Our second little guy, Buddy, has now pupated and we expect he’ll come out next week on Thursday or thereabouts.

  10. Adrienne in Atlanta says:

    So, if I don’t have milkweed in my yard (or know of any nearby), but I get some Monarch eggs online, am I condemning them to certain death? I’m in Georgia, and in an old established neighborhood with plenty of flora and fauna, but can’t help but wonder. Your thoughts?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Adrienne – Yes, you really do need milkweed of some form. It’s the only thing they eat. Go to a local garden centre. They should be able to help you either in terms of buying some or where you can go to find some (along the roadside or fields usually). ~ karen!

  11. Caroline says:

    Such a coincidence…I was out for a walk (in our area) a couple of days ago and saw my first Monarch this summer…mid way through August! I will try to go on a hunt for milkweed this week…I’m pretty sure I saw some along the walking path on Cootes. How many plants would you suggest I plant in my garden?

    • Karen says:

      If you can, try to transplant a few. They aren’t easy to transplant because they have a long tap root. But … even if you can get just one to survive that’s all you need because (being weeds and all) they spread. They aren’t invasive and are easily controlled, but new ones do pop up from the original. I have never tried to grow them from seed, but once the puffy pods on the top dry, you can also try saving the seeds and planting them indoors in the winter, and put them out in the spring. Or just throw some seeds on the ground! ~ karen

  12. Cindy says:

    Hi Karen, I read your blog lots and lots, I pin stuff too. I read comments, I don’t comment. So many of your posts generate ooooodles and oooodles of comments, yet this one has 2, one is your reply. I find that very curious and very, very sad. The plight of the Monarch and Bee’s (cuz you love your veggies garden and bee’s boost production) appreciate you.

    • Karen says:

      :) Thanks Cindy. But don’t worry too much, this wasn’t an actual post I put it. I just quietly added it the other day. I will be mentioning it in an upcoming post! :) ~ karen

  13. Sarah says:

    Karen, do you ever have milkweed bugs on your plants? If so, do you leave them be, or do you try to control them? I’m thinking about planting some milkweed next year. I’ve only seen a couple of monarchs here in OKC since moving here in 2010. Maybe I can help give their numbers a little boost!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sarah! I’ve noticed a few bugs on my milkweed but have no idea if they’re official milkweed bugs! Whatever they are I just leave them alone, but bang them off before I bring any milkweed inside. Give it a shot. Just start inspecting the leaves daily and hopefully you’ll find an egg! Let me know if you do. ~ karen

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

The Art of Doing Stuff