The raising season is coming to an end, so we’d love to hear how many butterflies you released for the 2017 monarch migration…and more importantly, what lessons you’ve learned through this amazing experience?
If you’ve still got some raising to do, raise on! But please post in the comment box at the bottom of this page after you’ve released your last butterfly.
Every year, I start Raise The Migration in early August, but monarchs raised at that time aren’t actually migration generation butterflies…they’re actually the parents to that amazing generation of travelers.
There’s no way to tell whether butterflies will mate or migrate, but one telltale sign of a migration generation butterfly is its size…the first noticeably large caterpillar that formed a chrysalis in our big cube cage was on September 6th.
Parasites (tachinid flies) reared their ugly heads in some early August butterflies, but the final small caterpillars we brought indoors in mid-August were tachinid-free. Thankfully, they evaded detection on small milkweed seedlings coming up in the pathways between our raised beds.
No trichogramma wasps parasitized our eggs this season…it helped that I actually saw the monarch laying our final eggs and collected them right away:
So how did our Raise The Migration Monarchs fare this season and what lessons did we learn?
In addition to Raise the Migration, I have have also published a more in-depth, organized raising guide to further assist you in raising healthy monarch butterflies.
If you’re interested in a step-by-step guide digital guide with free updates (before each monarch season begins in spring) please check out the monarch raising guide by clicking this butterfly photo:
For anyone who purchases the guide (or any other item) from Monarch Butterfly Shop, you will be invited to our closed facebook group where you can discuss raising monarchs with other raisers and post your photos.
Raise The Migration 2017 Results
This was our fifth successful season in a row, as we finally matched the survival rate from our inaugural event. Here are Raise the Migration results from the past four seasons:
2016- 96% survial rate
2015- 96% survival rate
2014- 90% survival rate
2013- 100% survival rate
As you can see from the results, this raising system is consistently producing healthy monarchs to help support the struggling monarch population.
For the fourth straight year, the caterpillar cages we use have proven to be escape-proof, which is one of the main reasons we use them.
Unexplained Caterpillar Deaths
I am happy to report there were zero issues with caterpillars for Raise the Migration 5.
Caterpillar Diseases and Parasites?
Starting with the caterpillars I was raising at the beginning of Raise the Migration 5, to the final twelve still munching their way through the monarch life cycle, it’s been an eerily peaceful event.
I can now report this continued all the way through the monarch butterfly life cycle.
I am happy to report zero accidents for Raise the Migration.
Over the past few seasons, this has been where I’ve had issues.
None to speak of…all 25 chrysalides looked like perfect jewels of nature.
I counted our migration generation as all butterflies that eclosed between September 1st through September 27th. I suspect some of the first born may have mated further south…
Our final 12 monarchs that were the children of the lovely lady pictured above, all emerged from September 25th-27th. All 12 butterflies were released on September 27th. Of these 12, one female stayed around the entire day to stock up on nectar. Here she is on our Mexican Flame Vine:
They were all in excellent shape to start their long journey. Even with an abundance of nectar sources still available in our Minnesota garden, the instinct to migrate was too strong to ignore…
When I started this event 5 years ago, I was much more focused on the numbers, but as this event has evolved, I realize this isn’t what it’s all about.
What most important is that we’re all learning and improving our raising processes so that we can support healthier monarchs raising forward. 🐛
But for those that appreciate a numbers report, here are my official results from RTM 5:
0 accidental deaths
0 disease issues
0 unexplained deaths
13 healthy males
12 healthy females
100% survival rate
I’m very happy with these results and hope that one day soon, many of you will experience similar results by applying new techniques to improve your raising process…
Even after 40 years of raising, I’m still learning lessons that make this process better for both raiser and monarch. This year there are two that stand out for raising monarch eggs and baby caterpillars:
- Using small food containers as hatcheries- this is helpful for anyone who has a hard time seeing eggs or baby caterpillars. The sealed containers also create a mini-greenhouse effect which keeps leaves from drying out before the eggs hatch.
- Using leaf cuttings for eggs/small caterpillars. How amazing that one leaf can sustain a monarch from egg to 8 day old caterpillar. An easy way to keep track of baby caterpillars and save milkweed:
Share Your Results?!
Please share your results below by letting us know how many monarchs you released to help boost the struggling monarch population…remember to include your location.
More importantly, please share the most valuable lesson(s) you learned about raising monarch butterflies, that you believe can help others raising forward.
Thank you for helping to Raise the Migration in 2017!