How to Hatch Monarch Butterflies

  • Let’s Help The Monarch Butterfly

I live in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota and in 2017 I decided to start a Monarch butterfly rearing project from wild collected eggs. I joined Monarch Larva Monitoring Project and began collecting data and reporting it so we can as a group help the Monarch butterfly.  I’ve put together this article that goes over the following topics below.

  •  Caterpillar cages and raising accessories
  • Where To Find Milkweed
  • The easiest way to find and collect eggs
  • Alternative egg & caterpillar resources
  • Discover the missing link for healthy monarchs
  • How to avoid losing baby monarch caterpillars
  • Caring for larger caterpillars
  • Handling monarch caterpillars 101
  • Chrysalis care
  • Release techniques for safe and healthy butterflies
  • Milkweed ideas for spring planting

Our Final Goal-Releasing Your Monarch

Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) Basics

The Monarch butterfly has to have milkweed to lay it’s eggs on because it’s the only plant the caterpillars will eat. Luckily milkweed is very common and can be found along roadways, parks and open fields. An even better option is to grow your own. Milkweed is a perennial and is very easy to grow. I have about a dozen milkweed plants that are across the street from my house on city property and three weeks ago they completely mowed down the milkweed and I was devastated. However I was taking the dog for a walk and noticed the milkweed was coming back strong and was over a foot tall. I actually collected an egg from a plant.

In the fall you should collect milkweed pods and store them over the winter in a cold spot. You can also go out in the Fall on a breezy day and look for pods that are already split and give them a hand by gently throwing them in the air so the wind takes them.

Collecting Monarch Eggs

Collecting the eggs is a lot of fun and great exercise. You also great to see amazing things when your out in the field. The key is to find an area that has plenty of milkweed but also has lots of flowers that will attract and feed the monarch butterflies.

Few items to bring when collecting eggs.
-Deli cups or container to put the leaves in
magnifying glass
wear long pants
insect field guide to help identify other insects you find
camera
notepad to write down your observations

 

 

Collecting Monarch Eggs on 4th of July 2018

 

Hatching Eggs & Raising Caterpillars

You don’t need any special equipment to hatch the eggs and raise the monarch caterpillars. I use clear deli cups but you could use a pickle jar or ice cream bucket. Just make sure you have ventilation holes on your lid. When you find an egg simply pull off the leaf and put a small piece of wet paper towel on the stem. I also like to put a small piece of paper towel on the bottom of the container because the caterpillars produce a lot of waste so it’s easy to replace that towel daily.

Monarch Chrysalis Care

If you plan on only raising a couple monarch butterflies there is no need to move them like I did. You can keep them in the container the caterpillar was raised in as long as there is enough room for the butterfly to move around and dry it’s wings without damaging them.

Hanging Your Monarch Chrysalis

monarch butterfly chrysalis cage

Releasing Your Monarch Butterfly

This is your reward and you should be proud of yourself. Please share what you learned with friends and classmates. With your help we can really make a difference. Just a reminder make sure you collect milkweed seeds this fall and plant them this spring.

Thanks again for taking the time to complete my course. I hope you enjoyed it.