Hi, My Name is ____ and I’m Addicted to Raising Monarchs
If you’re reading this article, you might know somebody that can fill in the sentence above…that person might even be you? This article isn’t about judgement or shame, but simply helping people successfully raise monarch butterflies without letting it take over their life!
When I started raising monarch butterflies, I was awed and amazed by their life-changing transformation that occurred in just 30 short days. I couldn’t get enough of this exciting new hobby so I raised more, and more, and then even a few more.
I was up to my ears in caterpillars….and caterpillar frass (poop)! While I enjoyed it, there came a point when it started getting out of control, and it seemed as if there wasn’t enough time in the day to raise monarch butterflies and have a life outside the caterpillar cage…
So what’s a butterfly lover to do?
You can give in to every raising urge and be completely consumed by this potentially addictive hobby or…
You can set some raising goals and guidelines before the season starts, to make this hobby a happier and healthier experience for both you and your monarch guests!
7 Signs You’re Addicted to Raising Monarch butterflies
1st Sign: There’s 50 monarchs inside your raising cage designed to fit 20
Set Raising Limits
Personally, I stick to raising 20 at one time. I keep monarch caterpillars in a large mesh cage that can easily accommodate double that number. However, 20 (or less) keeps cleaning time to a minimum.
Once you’re at the 20 monarch limit, don’t scoop up more monarchs until the final butterfly ecloses (hatches). Then, you can disinfect your cage with a 20% bleach solution, and start raising again, if you so choose…
I promise you’ll enjoy this hobby more if you keep your raising numbers manageable. You’ll also produce healthier monarchs when you’re not overcrowding them.
2nd Sign: You can’t walk by a milkweed patch without frantically looking under every leaf in case you missed an egg/caterpillar when you scoured the patch 10 minutes ago.
Don’t go out on milkweed patrol when your monarch motel has no vacancies…especially if you can’t say “no” when finding unclaimed eggs or caterpillars.
In this case, ignorance is bliss. Otherwise, the guilt of knowing there are monarchs outside is too much to handle for some, and that’s when you start getting into trouble. “I already have 20, what’s 20 more?” By now, you probably know the answer…
3rd Sign: It takes hours to feed and clean up after your caterpillars on a daily basis.
Follow a system that makes the raising process simpler
An example of a time-saving raising technique would be raising caterpillars on stem cuttings so you don’t have to switch out milkweed every day.
4th Sign: You’re outside shooing away any monarch predator that gets within 5 feet of a milkweed plant
Monarch predators are not your enemy
Yes, this may sound shocking and counterintuitive to your raising success, but think about it for a second…
A monarch female can lay more than 400 eggs. What if mama decides to gift you with even a quarter of her babies. If you don’t have 100 plants to feed those hungry monarchs then those monarchs will die for a different reason…because you weren’t able to feed them.
Or, worse yet, you’ll end up buying emergency milkweed that had been unknowingly treated with monarch-ending pesticides!
A healthy ecosystem is made up of both monarchs and their predators. Let nature work the way it was intended…otherwise, the impossible responsibility of feeding hundreds of monarchs will fall back on you.
5th Sign: You collected 50 eggs/caterpillars and you only have two milkweed plants
Establish several milkweed patches and types of milkweed before taking in more munching monarch mouths than you’re ready to feed.
Too many people want to jump into the raising pool without their milkweed life jackets. In order to support monarchs, you need to have established milkweed, or have access to a reliable patch close by… this means it’s not treated with pesticides and it won’t be mowed down over the summer!
Establishing 3-4 asclepias species that peak at different times of the season is a good goal for your garden.
Having several varieties insures there’s always viable milkweed available when the monarchs come calling…
6th Sign: All the gatorade, cucumbers, and butternut squash in your refrigerator are reserved for monarch emergencies.
If your confused about what this means, there’s still hope for you…
7th Sign: You’re missing out on long weekend trips because no one can stay with your babies…and remain uncomfortably silent when your friends remind you that your “babies” are college graduates…
Many regions throughout the US and Canada have at least 2-3 generations of monarchs they could raise. What time of the spring/summer/fall works best for you and your busy schedule? When are monarchs in your region?
Plan to raise during a period when you can commit to a 30-day period.
That doesn’t mean that you can can’t have a life for an entire month, but it means you shouldn’t be raising monarchs if you have to be out of town for two weeks.
There are raising techniques you can utilize, that would allow you to leave your monarchs unattended for up to a week, depending on the size of the caterpillars.
Now that you have some ideas on how to keep raising monarch butterflies manageable, it can be the fun and exciting hobby you always intended it to be…Happy Raising!