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by Tony Gomez

2 years ago

Raising Book Resources

Raising Hope for the 2021 Monarch Migration- Raise The Migration Results


Share Your Raise The Migration 2021 Experience in a Comment Below

2 years ago

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By Tony Gomez

Raise the Migration 2021- Share Your Experience Raising Monarch Butterflies

by Tony Gomez

2 years ago

Raise The Migration is an annual North American challenge to raise monarch butterflies to release for fall’s annual monarch migration. The time has come to share your 2021 experience and raise it forward…

Raise the Migration 2021- Share Your Experience Raising Monarch Butterflies

The raising season is coming to an end, so we’d love to hear how many butterflies you released for fall’s annual 2021 monarch migration…and more importantly, what lessons you’ve learned through this amazing raising 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 July, but monarchs raised at that time aren’t actually migration generation butterflies…they’re 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, which is dependent on how much the caterpillar eats. The first super-sized caterpillars start to form chrysalides around the first week of September in our northern region…

In the garden, you can tell non-migratory butterflies by their worn out wings. Non-migratory males are also more aggressive, chasing off potential competition while seeking out female companionship…migratory monarchs are in sexual diapause and only interested in stocking up on nectar for the long journey ahead.

So how did our Raise The Migration Monarchs fare this season and what lessons did we learn raising forward?

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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:

Raising Monarch Butterflies Book

For anyone who purchases the guide (or any other item) from Monarch Butterfly Life, you will be invited to our closed facebook group where you can discuss raising monarchs with other raisers and post your photos.

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Here are Raise the Migration results from the past eight seasons:

2020- 82% survival rate

2019- 81% survival rate

2018- 93% survival rate

2017- 100% survival rate

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.


Raise The Migration 2021 Results

I released 15 healthy monarchs (14 females and 1 male) from July 29th to August 16th with a 100% survival rate. I am fairly certain all of these butterflies were parents to the migration generation. 

The seven monarchs we raised after that, were counted as our official Raise The Migration monarchs for 2021...


Caterpillar Escapes

By keeping monarch eggs and baby caterpillars in sealed food containers, and raising larger caterpillars in the mesh cages, we never lose caterpillars. 

I think the closest we have come was two years ago when I forgot to close a cage door and found a caterpillar crawling on top of the cage. 🐛 😱


Unexplained Caterpillar Deaths

We didn't have any unexplained monarch deaths in 2021.


Caterpillar Diseases and Parasites?

I'm happy to report no disease issues in 2021. All of our raise the migration participants were brought in as eggs so no issues with tachinid flies...a couple eggs were parasitized by trichogramma wasps, and we discarded those eggs when they darkened and never hatched. 


Accidental Deaths?

We experienced one accidental (and completely preventable) accidental death. See the Butterfly Eclosure section below for more details...


Chrysalis Problems

No chrysalis issues to report in 2021...

Community member Jude R. recently used the microfiber method to rehang one of her fallen chrysalides:

Rehang Chrysalis on Microfiber- Raise the Migration 21 Results


Jude reports: There was zero silk and I wasn't sure what to do. Your tip worked and just in time. I was a little worried the bfly's feet would get stuck in the microfiber, but it had zero problems.
 
 

Butterfly Eclosures

We had one eclosure disaster this year. An early morning butterfly (emerged from chrysalis before 7am) fell from our kitchen overhang on to the floor.

She lost a lot of fluids from her abdomen when this happened. Her wings recovered 'somewhat' when I hung her from inside a mesh cage, but she was injured badly from the fall on to the wood floor, which is about a 7 foot drop. 

Starting in 2022, we will no longer rehang chrysalides on our overhang. It's much safer to rehang them inside the cage where they can crawl up a mesh wall after falling a much shorter distance. 

safe way to rehang monarch chrysalis


Final Results

Our totals are from all eggs that have successfully hatched. We don't count eggs that were parasitized outside or monarchs brought in as caterpillars because they could have parasites too.

Seven monarch butterflies emerged from their chrysalides between August 29th and October 5th: 

1 accidental death (butterfly fall)

0 disease or parasite issues

0 unexplained deaths

4 healthy males

healthy females

86% survival rate


Lessons Learned?

Chrysalides should always be kept in a cage or somewhere where the butterfly has a chance to climb to safety if it falls after it emerges. In my experience butterflies rarely fall, but it can happen. 


Migration Memory 2021

I came across these mating monarchs in our Minnesota garden on September 19th when it was an unseasonable 90°:

Mating Minnesota Monarchs September


Before 2021, I had never seen mating past the first week of September in our region. 

I hope you enjoyed reading about my Raise The Migration '21 results and lessons learned raising monarchs through the butterfly life cycle .

And now, I'd love to hear about your experience...
 

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 2021

338 comments


  • I only had 13 monarchs to release this year 8 were females. I saw more monarchs last year. I live in Hebron, CT.

    Martha on

  • I live in Greenville, PA halfway between Erie and Pittsburgh. Last year was my first serious foray into raising Monarchs. It was overwhelming and tiring but oh so rewarding. I set nearly 90 adults aflutter.

    This year the adults came to PA much later. There were fewer and days when there were no cats although I had doubled the number of swamp milkweed, added two more varieties, and planted more native milkweed.

    As with last year, the egg laying adults prefer the swamp milkweed and pass over the native if there is plenty of the swamp. Not a single cat was found on the native milkweed.

    I had a dismal return for my efforts this year raising only about 60% (49) adult butterflies. I believe the tachnis fly was at fault for the poor results. Some turned black and died in the caterpillar state. I also had quite a few that never made it out of the chrysalis stage.

    I am in the process of giving seeds to anyone who expresses interest in helping the Monarch! There are quite a few! I am a proponent of swamp over native since I’ve had so much luck with it.

    M Varley on

  • In the last 3 days I’ve chaptered to a dish captured 2 additional caterpillars and placed them in the habitat. One was nearly mature and he is hanging upside down this morning. I’ve successfully released two so far this year. I live in Maryland

    Michael Andrews on

  • I live in northern Delaware and have only started to see eggs so the nursery has just opened! I found 9 caterpillars on one plant that we pass by on our daily walk and brought them home since I learned about parasites that can kill the cats. I’ve also found 9 eggs at various locations including my own milkweed patch. I’ve learned to rinse the leaves very carefully to make sure they’re free of any bugs so the cats don’t ingest them and to not dry the leaves so that the cats get some water as they’re munching. I have the munching cats in my outdoor mesh cage and the eggs in plastic shoe boxes indoors. Last year I released over 30 monarchs and hope I can do as well this year.

    Janice Itzel on August 13, 2022 on

  • I released my last pair on Monday 11/1/21. I had to wait a few days for the weather to settle and be favorable again.
    It was not a very successful year for me. I had a fair amount of OE and some NPV disease, as well as dead chrysalis outcomes. I had not dealt with the chrysalis issue before.
    I was careful to isolate any cats I thought may be ill and I did a diluted clorox clean to the milkweed leaves on collection. I am also careful to keep collections in separate enclosures and sanitize with a bleach solution in between groups.
    Not sure why there was such a poor outcome for me but always and ever hopeful for next year.

    Asheville, NC
    Jude on

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