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by Anthony Gomez

A month ago

Raising Butterflies Blog

Top Tools, Supplies, and Resources for Raising Monarch Butterflies

by Anthony Gomez

A month ago

Top Tools, Supplies, and Resources for Raising Monarch Butterflies

by Anthony Gomez

A month ago

Helpful Solutions for Raising Monarchs through the Entire Butterfly Life Cycle

These are some of the top resources I have utilized over the past 3 decades to boost my monarch survival rate over 95%. If you use other invaluable raising tools or techniques for raising monarchs, please post them in the comments below.


Milkweed

Before you start raising, you’ll need an ample supply of the caterpillars favorite (and only) food resource. If you’re planning ahead, seeds will suffice, but in case of milkweed emergencies plants, plugs, and cuttings can help support monarchs much sooner.

1.  Milkweed Seed and Plant Resources


Caterpillar Cages

I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a cage that can be easily cleaned and dried if you want to avoid monarch diseases. The fine mesh on these cages will also keep baby caterpillars from escaping and predators from entering.

Big Cube and Baby Cube Butterfly Cage Comparison- Which size fits your needs for raising monarch butterflies?

All of these options are easy to clean and dry, portable, and are easy to store for winter.

1. Buy a Big Cube Pop-Up Cage, 24″ x 24″ x 24″ to Raise up to 30 Monarchs on Stem Cuttings or Small Potted Plants

2. Buy a Baby Cube Pop-Up Cage, 15″ x 15″ x 15″ to Raise up to 15 Monarchs on Stem Cuttings or Individual Leaves

3. Buy a Tall Baby Cage, 15″ x 15″ x 24″ to Raise up to 15 Monarchs on Large Stem Cuttings or Small Potted Plants

4. Buy a Monarch Tower Cage, 24″ x 24″ x 36″ to Raise up to 30 Monarchs on Large Stem Cuttings or Potted Plants

I highly suggest having a second mesh pop-up for releasing and keeping butterflies overnight if there is inclement weather. Butterflies should never be kept in the same cage as feeding caterpillars because they can spread disease (OE spores) from their wings and bodies to the unsuspecting caterpillars below.

If you’d like your cages elevated for less bending over, this 48″ by 24″ adjustable-height table can hold two of our largest cages or several smaller ones:

Adjustable Butterfly Cage Table for Raising Monarchs and more

Find your Butterfly Cage TABLE Here


Butterfly Raising Books

Raising monarch butterflies is a process. The better your process is, the more successful your results will be. If you’re not raising healthy monarchs with a 90% survival rate, take some time to review and improve your process… you (and the monarchs) will be glad you did!

Raise More Monarch Butterflies with Less Effort and At Least a 90% Survival Rate. The tips and techniques in this raising guide will help you raise HEALTHY monarchs that you can release so they can start the next generation of magnificent monarch butterflies.


1. Raise More Monarchs, with Less Effort, and At Least a 90% Survival Rate (updated April 2019)

2. How to Raise Monarch Butterflies: A Step-by-Step Guide for Kids


Raise On Stem Cuttings

Placing stem cuttings in water extends the life of your milkweed and keeps it hydrated until your caterpillar guests are finished.

For raising monarchs, we typically place milkweed stem cuttings in food storage containers filled with flat vase fillers and water. The vase fillers keep the cuttings firmly in place. Carefully puncture the lid with a small phillips head screwdriver:

Raising Resources for Monarch Caterpillars- Small Milkweed Cuttings Containers with Flat Vase Fillers will keep Small Monarch Caterpillars Satisfied for Days...

If the stems are on the short side, pick floral tubes are also a fantastic way to keep the leaves fresh. They have been an invaluable tool for keeping chokecherry leaves fresh for tiger swallowtail caterpillars. Stick the pick in a container with vase fillers or in a styrofoam block/lid to keep the cutting elevated.

Raising Butterflies Resources- Floral Tubes are an excellent tool for keeping host plant leaves fresh until the caterpillars are finished.
Tubes for Tigers


Recently, I’ve also used the floral tubes with single common milkweed leaves for instar 1 and 2 monarch caterpillars. Cut the leaf on both sides of the midrib to stick the stem in further for less refilling. 1 leaf can easily sustain 1 caterpillar for at least a week:

Single Common Milkweed Leaves will stay fresh for days if you keep them in floral tubes. This is a simple way to start raising baby monarch caterpillars. Find Raising Resources here...
A Fresh Tube of Milkweed

Find Floral Tubes for Milkweed Stem Cuttings

Find Food Containers for Larger Milkweed Cuttings

Find Vase Fillers or marbles (these can be used to hold floral picks in place or to secure stem cuttings inside the food containers)


Monarch Eggs and Caterpillars

While finding eggs or caterpillars on milkweed is usually the preferred method for starting your raising journey, that’s not always realistic in today’s changing landscape. The following resources offer eggs, caterpillars, and chrysalises to insure your season gets off to a flying start.

Please don’t order monarchs unless you have access to milkweed plants…a good option for schools, and for when you have lots of milkweed…but no monarchs ☹️

Can't find monarch eggs or caterpillars on your milkweed plants? Try ordering some from these reliable butterfly farms so you won't miss out on monarchs!
Mail Order Monarch Eggs Shipped on Milkweed


note: 
the first 2 options are only good for those who live east of the continental divide. These vendors aren’t allowed to ship further west due to USDA regulations.

1. Monarch Caterpillars from Monarch Watch

2. Monarch Eggs and Caterpillars from Rose Franklin


Western Vendor?

3. Farfalla Butterfly Company

If you’re looking to purchase monarch eggs, caterpillars, chrysalides to raise and release, this California vendor ships to states west of the continental divide including CA, WA, OR, AZ, UT, NM & CO.


Cage Cleaning Supplies

1. Disinfecting Bleach

Some universities and butterfly breeders use a 5%-10% bleach solution mixed with water to clean cages and other raising supplies. You could either mix it in a spray bottle or soak the cages in a tub. I would suggest starting with the 5% solution (1 part bleach to 19 parts water) before trying a stronger concentration. Mix the solution in a bucket, spray bottle, pressure sprayer, or soak mesh cages in a large tub, laundry tub, or bucket for about 20 minutes.

Bleach is corrosive and can irritate eyes and skin so use with caution…

Protect your caterpillars from monarch diseases by sanitizing their cage in between monarch batches and at the end of every season. Rinse and dry your supplies thoroughly after using bleach.

2. Disinfecting Wipes

Some raisers use clorox wipes or similar brands to disinfect both cages and raising equipment such as cuttings containers. Rinse and dry your supplies thoroughly after using bleach wipes.

3. Cordless Keyboard Vacuum for Cleaning Caterpillar Poop

A cordless keyboard vacuum is the perfect tool for cleaning up caterpillar frass (poop)quickly…and without getting your hands dirty! An inexpensive, low-power vacuum is your best option, as too much suction can pull up the cage floor.

4. Poo Poo Platter for Easy Cage Cleaning

The Poo Poo Platter is a bendable cage liner that will save you time cleaning up after messy monarch caterpillars.
Place Milkweed Cuttings Containers Inside!


These frass-catching platters are a perfect fit for the baby cube and tall baby butterfly cages.

5. Boot Trays

In the summer we use these for holding cuttings containers while cleaning out the caterpillar cages. In the winter, they can also be used as saucers for potted plants.


Tagging & Tracking Monarch Butterflies

1. Tagging Info for Eastern Monarchs
2. Tagging Info for Western Monarchs

There are several tagging programs for the western monarchs so research to see which one makes the most sense for your region.


Raising Butterflies T-shirts, Sweatshirts, & Hoodies

1. Raise The Migration Butterfly T-shirt Collection (not currently available)
2. Mother of Monarchs Butterfly T-shirt Collection
3. Super Dad (Coming Soon!)


Butterfly Raising Articles

1. How To Start Raising Monarch Butterflies?

2. 21 Survival Tips for Raising Monarchs Indoors

3. How to Tell the Difference Between Monarch Male and Female Butterflies

4. Monarch Chrysalis Problems and Helpful Solutions

5. Common Butterfly Diseases and How to Prevent Them

6. 10 Ways to Stop Aphids from Taking Over your Milkweed Supply


Raising Resources for Schools

1. 21 Tips for Starting (or Improving) your School Butterfly Garden

A helpful checklist of all the important points to consider before starting your school butterfly garden.

2. Monarch Magic ~ Butterfly Activities & Nature Discoveries

An award winning book by author Lynn Rosenblatt that captures the magic of monarch metamorphosis with amazing pictures, scientific facts, classroom activities and experiments. Grades 3-6

3. The Secret Lives of Monarchs on DVD or Amazon Video

This informative video created by Bill and Sally Levinson shows monarchs as most have never seen them. See molting, pupation, and other amazing details of monarch metamorphosis. Great material for igniting a spark in the scientists of tomorrow!

4. Monarchs in the Classroom

This University of Minnesota program provides educational workshops and training for local teachers. Not in Minnesota? MITC also has printed lesson plans for those in other regions.

5. Monarch Teacher Network

The Monarch Teacher Network (MTN) is a growing network of teachers and other people who use monarch butterflies to teach a variety of concepts and skills, including our growing connection with other nations and the need to be responsible stewards of the environment.

6. Western Monarch Butterfly Resources

Get first hand gardening/raising tips from experts in your region.

Raising Resources- These are the resources I personally use to raise monarch butterflies with a 90%+ survival rate, and they can help you have more raising success too...
A Happy Ending


Happy Raising to All!🌿🐛

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This will make clean-up easier
Love the easy access of the draw bridge door
It’s actually a good cage
Floral Tubes
Butterfly Tower