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by Tony Gomez

3 months 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

3 months ago

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By Tony Gomez

Raise the Migration 2021- Share Your Experience Raising Monarch Butterflies

by Tony Gomez

3 months 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

2 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

334 comments


  • 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

  • It looks like the monarchs are finally finished in my Southern CA garden. This year I have raised and released 86 healthy monarchs. I didn’t keep track, but sex ratio was ~1:1. In all, I lost 14 to tachnids and wasps (still not sure how they got into my raising house) and 2 to failed to fully eclosure, wo in all an 84% success rate.

    Just when I thought they were done, a couple of females left me with 76 new eggs at th beginning of October.But, it appears they wer “shooting blanks” as none of them developed. Apparently that’s something that can happen towards the end of the season. It’s turned warm againa after a brief cold snap (by L.A. standards😉), and I’ve seen a few fluttering around, so maybe they’ll still lay a few viable eggs. The season here can run theough November.
    Roma Levy on

  • Just moved here and am enjoying the migration so much. Mostly the adults are feeding on my milkweed but today I found what looked like a dead caterpillar nearby. I used the leaf he was on to move him to the large plant and later saw him climbing along. He’s tiny, not an inch long, I am hoping he survives.

    Pratt Susan on

  • From Evansville, IN
    This was my first season doing this. I felt completely ready with my one big cage and assortment of tubes, etc. Halfway through I had to order a second cage – which got here quite rapidly. I only collected from the milkweed in my backyard. I saw my first big cat on July 24 but could not collect it as we were going away for awhile. I collected by first caterpillars on August 4 and released by first butterflies on August 19. Last eggs collected September 13, last instar 4 collected Sept. 21. Last release was October 14, as of October 19 I still see monarchs flying around town. In total I collected 91 either as eggs or cats. 4 died early because of the T-fly but those were it. 5 died at different stages after turning black. 2 did not make it out of the not-healthy looking chrysalids. 3 eclosed in very poor shape. 6 died because of avoidable accidents (I feel terrible). So a total of 91 collected and 71 released. 33 male and 38 female. My main two lessons were that I did not have enough of my own milkweed and had to rely on friend with lots of it on his property. And I learned how poisonous it is to cats – thankfully she is perfectly fine but I did have to induce vomiting! The tips from this website and the FB group were invaluable from how to take care of eggs to how to move chrysalids when needed. I moved quite a few from dead leaves to the ceiling of the cage – all with success. I am planting much more milkweed for next season and I need to buy a small vacuum for cleaning the frass of the bottom of the cage. It was a lot of work as you all know but worth it – despite the heartache every now and then.

    Christine on

  • I raised a total of 116 monarchs this summer-63 males and 53 females. I had two with tachnid flies (maybe I’ll learn not to bring in larger caterpillars but at least I destroyed the things so they didn’t get to live either!) I released my last monarch on September 28,which is earlier than usual. I live in central Indiana.

    Barbara Sidebottom on

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Love the large floral tubes

I have been using floral tubes for the past 2 years and have found them to be very handy for keeping milkweed fresh and keeping the caterpillars up off the floor of the cage. Also like the snug tube cap which has eliminated any unfortunate "drownings".

Floral tubes

2020/21 was my first season raising Monarch Butterflies and Milkweed. It was such an amazing experience especially raising them from egg to butterfly. I grew them in big glass pickle jars, putting new milkweed in the jars everyday when they were caterpillars because the milkweed would get eaten or wilt very fast. I put netting over the top of the jars with a rubber band to hold it on. Next year I wanted to go to a bigger Monarch breeding space and the tubes will be perfect to hold the milkweed and keep it alive. I'm looking forward to using the tubes. Wish me luck!

I just recently purchased these and have not had the opportunity to use them. However, I am really looking forward to spring so I can use them!!

Too large

Too large to get through the door to outside

Mesh cage

I'm really looking forward to trying this next season.