Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Raising Monarchs

Say hello to Owen

Sometimes new hobbies just show up overnight, don’t they? There was discussion on Facebook about finding and raising monarchs, and I was bemoaning how I planted some milkweed two years ago and still hadn’t found any. Next thing I know, a friend drops two caterpillars off, and she and I find two more in my garden immediately. Then I found a bunch more. Then I gave some to friends to raise, since I figure if you are trying to save a species from extinction, you should definitely recruit members to your cause.
If you’d like to learn more, I highly recommend this book: How to raise monarch butterflies: a step-by-step guide for kids by Carol Pasternak.

Here’s who we found, in order of appearance in our lives:
  • Owen
  • Rosie (taken by the Nash family)
  • Daisy (taken by the Slusher family)
  • Sophie-Robert
  • Izzy (taken by the Long family)
  • Smally
  • Junior One
  • Junior Two
  • Stuccy
  • Beanie (Raised himself outside. Made a chrysalis on our bean teepee. Given to my dad as a birthday present.)
  • Buck
  • Timber
  • Flash
  • California (from an egg!)
  • Johnny Test (also from an egg! Born today!)

Junior One, Junior Two, and Stuccy
And a swallowtail named Ziggy. Still in chrysalis at press time. Rescued off some dying dill in my garden.
It’s amazing how quickly they grow up. From a tiny egg-dot to a caterpillar almost the size of your little finger in two weeks. At that point they eat around the clock and can finish off one and a half milkweed leaves a day! And those are big leaves. Then another 10-14 days in a chrysalis and VIOLA (ha), a butterfly that’s ready to party.

Beanie, cleverly hiding among the pole beans. That's him in the green with golden accents.

So go plant some milkweed. The flowers are pretty and smell nice and will attract all sorts of strange insects you’ve never seen in your garden before. Surely you have a bit of room behind the garage?

 Bon Voyage, Sophie-Robert!