Raising Monarchs

Raising monarch butterflies
My niece’s monarch nursery with lots of milkweed.

Now that I’m a monarch caregiver, I must search outside for fresh milkweed every day. This new role in my life began two days ago thanks to my 14-year-old niece. She is a monarch guru who rapidly detects the minuscule-sized monarch eggs, which look like little white dots, on the milkweed plants outside her Vermont home. Tucked in a corner of her bedroom is an aquarium-sized hatchery (pictured here) with eggs and caterpillars in various stages of development. She and her family have successfully nurtured and released generations of monarchs. If away from home for an extended time, she diligently transfers ready-to-hatch pupas into a mason jar to take with her.
After thoroughly explaining to me the lifecycle of a monarch, from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis (pupa) to butterfly, she supplied me with a mesh covered mason jar filled with milkweed, one egg, and one newly hatched caterpillar. So far, the caterpillar has grown quite a bit and is actively storing up energy, as evidenced by the holes through most of the leaves in the jar. The egg, on the other hand, either didn’t yet hatch or didn’t survive the drive from Vermont to New Jersey. Hopefully, it’s just a late hatcher. This afternoon we found some fresh milkweed behind the Suburu dealer’s parking lot. We will keep you posted on the progress of our monarch nursery. If you are hatching monarchs, tell us your experience. For more information, a suggested website with tips on monarch raising is Joyful Butterfly.

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9 responses to “Raising Monarchs

  1. Our little caterpillar is growing quite well and is keeping us on the hunt for more milkweed. So far found we some growing along the railroad tracks, near my husband’s office, and in a local park — must keep feeding the baby. Our original egg never hatched, but there was an egg attached to the milkweed we picked yesterday, not sure if it will hatch or not.

  2. Thanks Laura. Maybe when you take a break from all your travels!

  3. Now that you are the monarch’s keeper are you preparing his little backpack for his journey to Mexico?
    DAL, Charlottesville, VA

  4. Yes! Based on how rapidly it’s growing the time will be soon.

  5. Update: We now have a pupa under construction!

  6. Pingback: The Unhatched Pupa – No Monarch for Us | Nature in the Burbs

  7. Very interesting article. I’ve never raised butterflies but my father is a beekeeper. If you ever visit Georgia, make sure you go see Callaway Gardens and their Butterfly Center.

  8. Unfortunately our monarch didn’t emerge from its pupa. But we did enjoy trying and will probably do it again next year. Thanks for the referral on Callaway Gardens!

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