Supply List For Raising Monarchs
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.
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.
To raise migration butterflies “the easy way” requires a cage that can hold a potted milkweed plant or cuttings, at the least.
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)
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 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.
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.
If you want more of a ‘sure thing’ when ordering monarchs, caterpillars are probably your best option since a % of eggs won’t hatch.
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