In Captivity

MatingI have raised 43 Monarchs so far this year.  I am really excited because it has not been that great of a year yet.  I have only had 4 sick ones, which is encouraging!

Today, I went out with my sister/friend and found a lot! She took 10 home after I taught her how to bleach them.

The four sick ones I put in a huge cage that I got a garage sale last year.  I put some milkweed in there for them to enjoy.

One escaped.  Two of them mated. She laid 23 eggs just today! I am hoping for more.


Until the week before camp, we could not find any Monarchs at all. We saw a few flying, but no caterpillars or eggs. Just before camp I had 5 Monarch caterpillars. When I got back I found 48 more!

Today I had three of my Monarchs emerged! All three of them are girls.

Right now I have

  • 3 Butterflies
  • 8 chrysalises
  • 50 Monarch caterpillars, all sizes and
  • 20 eggs

I hope to raise over 100 Monarchs this year!!! Three ButterfliesP.S.  Today I found 9 Eastern Black Swallowtail eggs and 5 Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillars that are really little.  I hope we caught them before parasitic wasps did!

Winter Butterfly

ButterflyYesterday while I was playing outside in the snow, I tripped on this butterfly.  I ran inside and looked him up. He is a Winter Coconut butterfly. Three eggs are laid on a coconut flower.   The baby caterpillars then eat the inside of the immature coconut. They stay in groups of 3 caterpillars.  Once they are ready to emerge as butterflies they come out of one end of the coconut before the coconut gets to hard. Then they cover the holes with a mixture of saliva and webbing and the coconut shells grows over it forming three “eyes”.  The butterflies are really cool.

One Hundredth Butterfly!

I have raised over 100 butterflies this year!


I was able to release 88 Monarchs!  Most of the rest I have kept in my butterfly hospital.

I have learned a few new things.  I had to rescue one who’s chrysalis was stuck on her abdomen (it fell off the next day).

I got my first pair of Monarchs to mate. I collected the eggs and raised two generations.

I learned how to pin the dead ones.  That way I can use them to share with classes I teach.

I kept better records. For the record I have

  • if the egg was bleached
  • when the butterfly emerged
  • the butterflies name–mostly Bob this year–
  • if it was a boy or girl
  • if it had OE or not
  • and where I released the butterfly.

I hopefully will have 6 more monarchs. I could probably raise them for another month, but we hope to go on vacation soon, and I won’t be able to take care of them. I hope to find more when we got home. Wouldn’t it be so much fun to raise 200 in a year?

Looking Ahead

Looking at chrysalis under microscope
The black pointer is pointing at the line between the dots. The short line to the right of it shows this had a girl

You can tell on Monarchs if it is a boy or a girl while in it’s chrysalis.  You can tell on an Eastern Black Swallowtails too, but the chrysalis looks different and I don’t have pictures of that yet.

On the back side of the chrysalis, there is an indented line between the black dots.  If you look a little further down there are stripes underneath.  If you look really close–you have to have good eyes– there is a line by the stripes. If you see the line and it does not touch the stripes, it is a girl. It is much harder to to see the line touching for the boys, it looks like there is nothing there, unless they emerged and you have a microscope.


This is a birthday caterpillar and only shows up occasionally.

Right now I am raising a lot of Monarchs and one Eastern Black Swallowtail.  Twenty Eight of them are very easy-they are chrysalises.  The rest are eating a lot and I have to clean their cages at least twice, but sometimes three times a day.