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Monarch Migration Butterflies?


Supply List For Raising Monarchs

How To Raise Monarch Migration Butterflies- Supply List

Welcome to Amazing Raise 1, where you’ll be raising magnificent monarch butterflies to help increase the number of monarchs that will be overwintering in the mountains of Mexico and southern California.

My name is Tony Gomez, and I’ve raised thousands of monarchs over the past 30 years. My goal is to help you learn how to raise more monarchs with less effort.

Here are more details about the raise, including my suggested supply list:

How Many Monarchs Will You Raise?

This challenge is being created for anyone raising between 1-20 monarchs at one time. If you want to raise more, I recommend using additional cages to avoid potential disease. I raised 53 between 2 cages last September using this system and only lost one monarch (due to an unfortunate ‘smooshing’ accident)

Do You Have To Start On An Exact Date?

It’s unlikely that we would all have new monarch eggs on exactly the same date. Therefore, I will start sending tips during the earliest part of the migration, so you can refer to them when you have you monarch eggs secured.

My tentative start date is Saturday, August 17th. This should allow most northerners to still participate and get their monarchs headed south before the weather becomes an issue. My start date might be a few days later depending on how cooperative the ELF’s (egg laying females) are. The latest I would start is August 24. I will send out an announcement as soon as Amazing Raise begins.

When Will The Monarch Migration Be in My Area

Check out this monarch migration chart from Monarch Watch. I would recommend releasing your butterflies no more than 2 weeks after the last date of your peak migration. My latitude in Minneapolis is 45° N so my last peak date is September 10. This means I will try to release my last butterflies by September 24th.

You do not need to follow along in real-time to participate! Refer to the raise emails you will be receiving and start at a time that makes sense for your your region.

Does It Matter Where You Raise Them?

Keep in mind, cool nights below 55° F will slow down the metamorphic process. It’s very possible to have cooler nights in late summer (especially north) so bring your cage indoors on these nights.

Before we get started you will need to get set up with a few basic supplies. These supplies will help you raise monarchs for years to come, and they should fit most budgets. Some of you might not need to spend anything if you’ve already got the supplies at home.

Here are the butterfly raising accessories I suggest to make raising migration butterflies easier, less time-consuming, and more enjoyable.

Caterpillar Cages

To raise migration butterflies “the easy way” requires a cage that can hold a potted milkweed plant or cuttings, at the least.

1a. Collapsible Laundry Hamper

At 18″ tall, this hamper can easily fit milkweed cuttings, although it wouldn’t be able to hold mature potted plants. I recently purchased this and it appears to be very good quality for raising purposes. (If cost is an issue with the next cage, this is a reasonable alternative)

1b. Caterpillar Castles

This is my suggested cage to raise migration monarchs for several reasons:

  • well made
  • fold up for easy storage
  • one side is clear plastic for easy viewing
  •  jumbo size can fit potted plants (I have owned the jumbo cage for 4 years and have been very satisfied with it)
  • light weight
  • easier to clean than a large stationary cage
If you haven’t signed up to participate in Amazing Raise 1, sign up here to receive raising tips delivered to your email inbox.

Milkweed Plants

If you want to raise monarch butterflies with the least amount of effort, you will need at least one mature potted milkweed plant that has healthy leaves. A pot saucer is also highly recommended.

The best place to find mature plants is in your garden or from a local nursery that doesn’t spray with harmful pesticides.

2a. Tropical Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica)- this seems to be the preferred egg laying milkweed late in the season. If you have tropical mw in your garden, transfer one to a pot now and you’ll be good to go.

2b. Goose Plant (Asclepias physocarpa)- this milkweed has very viable, healthy leaves late in the season. It’s also easy to pot if you have some in your garden.

2c. Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)- the leaves are generally less viable than the two above, but it’s an option for native gardeners.

2d. Giant Milkweed (Calotropis gigantea)- this is not widely available but could be an option in places like Florida. Calotropis procera is a similar option, but it’s not commonly sold in North America.

Popular native species like butterfly weed and common milkweed are usually not viable by late summmer. However, you can try them if the leaves are still lush.

One monarch caterpillar can devour an entire milkweed plant. Keep this in mind when deciding how many monarchs you want to raise.

Monarch Eggs

During the past decade, it has become increasingly difficult to find monarch eggs. If you don’t want to wait for your milkweed to work its magic, check out these sources to buy eggs and caterpillars.

3a. Set of 5 Monarch Eggs

3b. Sets of 10 or 20 Monarchs Eggs/Caterpillars

3c. Set of 18 Monarch Butterfly Eggs

 

Monarch Caterpillars

If you want more of a ‘sure thing’ when ordering monarchs, caterpillars are probably your best option since a % of eggs won’t hatch.

3d. Sets of 10 or 20 Monarchs Eggs/Caterpillars

3e. Monarch Caterpillars, Eggs, & Chrysalides

 

Grocery List

4. Oranges- in case you need to keep monarchs overnight due to inclement weather

5. Gatorade- I pour a little over the orange slices. The monarchs get extra minerals from this. Melon flavored gatorade has been used by universities.

6. Empty water bottle, empty gatorade bottle, or vase to place cuttings.

7. Plastic wrap to cover empty bottle/vase

8. Rubber bands to secure plastic wrap

If you have any questions or comments about raising supplies please post below. I look forward to raising the migration with you!
 

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Comments

  1. Sheri DeLoach says:

    Interesting article & info. I would like to part update in ‘The Flight.”
    Probably need to order eggs.
    And will need a BF castle.
    Are these things you sell?
    I live in Central Texas, Waco/Hewitt.
    Very hot now & will be end of Aug
    I have Butterfly Milkweed plants I can pot up.
    Thanks
    Sheri DeLoach
    Sheri [email protected]

    • Hi Sheri,

      I’m happy to hear you are participating in the Amazing Raise! I don’t currently sell anything on the list, but these are products I use myself and the vendors are all reputable. In Texas, you will be at the tail end of the migration so you might want to start at the end of September or early October. I’m starting ‘early’ so everyone has a chance to participate.

      • thank you for the reply,Tony. I am encouraged to go with your program as the Monarchs are beginning to migrate through our Cen-Texas area. Zone 8. I would like to buy the least expensive, most effective products for raising them inside a laundry hamper. I saw a large female Monarch depositing her eggs on the undersides of the common milkweed plant about 10 days ago. I can still see the ‘white dots eggs.’ Should I leave them on these outside plants until I can set up a laundry hamper? Also, is it too late to order eggs?
        Thank you,
        Sheri
        sheri deloach invites you to read…Sheri takes me to the ‘Visiting Place’My Profile

        • Hi Sheri,

          because there are so many egg-eating predators my suggestion is to take the eggs inside as you see them. I would check the egg suppliers on the resource list to see if they are still offering eggs. If yes, you should still be able to turn out one last Texas batch…

  2. marcy says:

    I just released 4 Monarchs today. I have 2 chrysalis left to mature. Hopefully I will find more cats on my Milkweeds to raise!
    I have not been seeing as many Monarchs lately.

    • not sure where you’re located Marcy, but most of North America still has plenty of time to find eggs. If you’re in Canada, your egg days are numbered.

      • marcy says:

        Tony I am in Central Florida. This is the first time I have raised Butterflies. In the past few days I have found 5 cats on plants in varying instars. I have them in containers in the house since I have had several go missing if left on the plants outside. I have a medium size foldable butterfly tent just a little too small for my potted plant. though.
        Up till today I have raised about 10 Monarchs. I am so happy to contribute a small part in raising these beautiful natural jewels. I am amazed at their beauty and grace.

        • Hi Marcy, don’t worry if your potted plant won’t fit in your cage. I will also be discussing using “cuttings” instead. Happy to hear you’re having a successful season and I look forward to helping you raise more monarchs.

          • Marcy Isherwood says:

            Hello Again Tony,
            Update on my last post. I now have 7 monarch chrysalis’. I have not seen a Monarch in 1 1/2 weeks. No cats on my Milkweeds.
            Are they migrating north for their migration to Mexico?- Or should I look for other reasons, such as lizards , wasps and ants and other nefarious bad guys?
            Thanks
            Marcy :-)

            -

          • Hi Marcy, the migration has begun in Canada. Usually, this is the time I start seeing migrators come through in Minneapolis. However, we’re having record heat all week…not sure if that might delay southward movement. I’ll be sure to post when I see them come through!

            I just read a new statistic that said only 1% of monarchs survive outdoors. That seems a bit low, but it’s probably not too far off.

  3. Monique says:

    Hi there! I live in Central Florida and I have raised (from egg) over 70 Monarchs so far this year and I have 35 in chrysalis, about to emerge in the next few days. My husband converted an old ferret cage, added some screen, lattice and put a lock on it. My beauties have their own condo! :)

    • excellent news Monique….many Floridians are having fantastic monarch seasons! It sounds like your monarchs are living the high-life in their beach front condo :)

  4. Cathie Nunez says:

    Three days ago I had my first monarch, I live in Fort Wayne, Indiana. No eggs but am excited to finally see one this season!

  5. Donna says:

    Hi Tony,
    very informative!
    In the Houston area, I’m just sarting to see daily visits from monarch and other yet to be identified butterflies. There has been plenty of egg laying by the mamas, but after a day or 2, I don’t see them anymore, and have not seen the tiny cats. I’ve inadvertently diverted the wasps by filling my hummingbird feeder, but I have quite the family of lizards. Could they be the culprit?

    Anyway, I have HUGE milkweed plants, so I’m going to do like last year with your suggestion and take cuttings.
    Wish me luck! : )

    • Hi Donna,

      cuttings work well for raising and they save you a lot of time too. Yes, lizards have been reported to eat monarch caterpillars so they could be your culprits. Good luck and keep us posted!

      PS…if you haven’t signed up for Amazing Raise 1, there’s still time to sign up. I just sent out an email about taking cuttings today.

  6. Tony,
    Greetings from Ft Wayne IN have released two adult Monarchs and have 8 more instar on the ready. I was just wondering if you had found a good site for the non aggressive Asclepias purpurascens or Asclepias viridis. Have you ever used hardyplants.com as a source for milkweed seeds. I live in a rurual area and want to grow the less aggressive milkweeds as I want to incorporate them into gardens. I have also ordered a plant of Prairie Milkweed A. sullivanti can you think of any other less aggressive milkweed types? Thanks

    • Hi Brian,

      Incarnata is non-invasive if you cut off the seed pods before the burst open. I put together a butterfly plant page with links and you should be able to find what you’re looking for there.

      http://www.monarchbutterflygarden.net/butterfly-plants/

      I have 8 different milkweed species and I’m planting some viridis seeds this fall. You also have the option of planting ‘annual’ milkweed species for your area like curassavica or physocarpa. I use both in Minnesota and they are popular late season plants for the monarchs…especially tropical (curassavica) since it also serves as a nectar source.

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