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by Tony Gomez

10 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

10 months ago

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By Tony Gomez

Raise the Migration 2021- Share Your Experience Raising Monarch Butterflies

by Tony Gomez

10 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

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


  • From southeast PA.
    Slow start to the 2021 season. I had brought in 52 cats I found on my mw plants from mid-August through mid-September. I saved one from a field.
    Lost 9 cats and one chrysalis.
    Successful raised and released 43 monarchs.
    Lessons learned.
    1) make sure to plant different native mw at multiple locations in your yard.
    2) watch where you step around mw. I found cats walking on my patio and on grass looking for other mw plants.
    3) I was able to successfully eclose two chrysalis that fallen to the ground in my tents. I left them on the floor of the tent to see if they would eclose ok and they did.
    4) tropical mw is a good source of nectar despite not being native to my area.
    Butterflies love to feed on it. The flowers last until first frost while other plants stop producing flowers. I know about the controversy on non-native plants.
    5) don’t give up if you don’t see monarchs right away. I didn’t think I was going to get any but they eventually found my yard. Make sure to have plenty of mw in bunches throughout your yard and plenty of necter plants near them. The females seem to be very selective where they deposit those precious eggs.
    6) enjoy the journey and continue to help monarchs and all wildlife!

    John Leh on

  • WOW! What a season for me in Northern NJ! I am a tax accountant. WFH Virtual office. On 7/27, I watched out my loft office window to see a my first Monarch of the summer!!! A female, egg dumping, on the front yard Common Milkweed. Computer off, Karen off, for the rest of the day to hunt for eggs. If I didn’t grab them fresh… LOL I wouldn’t know what to look for. I stalked MaMa for 4 hours. I gathered 30 or so eggs on leaves and on the fresh green seed pods. Fast forward to the following week …. I was finding many, many, more eggs and larval pillars on my Swamp, Butterfly, and Tropical weeds located on my deck. 102 pillars or so later, and 99.9 success rate (I accidentally rinsed a wee tiny pillar down the kitchen drain while attending to their morning and evening refreshing and feeding sessions.)

    Lessons learned:
    1. When you think they are dead because they aren’t moving. Leave them alone! Shedding skin. Found next morning on rim of trash can looking mad at me. Rescued!!!
    2. Make sure you keep accurate count of how many teensie ones are in those carry out clam shells! I was always losing #8 of the batch. Probably tired eyes, and busy white granite to lose them on. I would wash their clam shell, them, and their food on a white dinner plate so I could keep track of who was where. Only one (large) escapee. Found her in her chrysalis on the cabinet moulding behind my kitchen trash can. Easy relo to the habitat.
    3. Keep all your supplies at hand, and be organized. Pick & wash the dinner weed before refreshing the cats.
    4. Have at least one friend to help you. I periodically gave batches of cats to my friend who has a farm. She has a big habitat at the farm store where customers came weekly to see the pillars and butterflies. Good educational awareness!
    5. Grow different types of Milkweed for your geographical area. This is my 3rd year raising. My Swamp & Butterfly weed are prime. Huge and beautiful. (year two for them) I have them in large flower pots on my deck away from my predator infested front garden. Common weed in the front garden has now infiltrated the neighbor’s front lawn LOL… Shhhh.
    6. I purchased Tropical Milkweed from Lupine Gardens in the Blog’s link. What a fabulous organization. Great care in packing and shipping live plants. The Tropical milkweed ended up being my crazy butterfly magnet. Eggs all over the place. It is October 18th and it is still on my deck blooming like mad. Great in a large deep pot. I will plant my harvested seeds, but may buy from Lupine again. It does have aphids. They arrived in September. Ugh!
    7. If you are caring for 100+ pillars, don’t even consider a day off. Those babies make a mess, and they need you.
    8. Say thank you prayers for Amazon’s overnight delivery capabilities. Last two years I had few cats, no eggs, and one large habitat. This year I was ordering something every other day…. 5 habitats, big floral tubes, little floral tubes and racks later. Whew!
    9. The 102 Monarchs were about evenly split between males and females. I had no additional eggs/pillars in late August. Most of the Monarchs set free end of August thru early September were HUGE! I am sure they will be migrating. No caterpillar deaths, all Chrysalides perfect. All butterflies eclosed beautiful strong and healthy. It couldn’t have been better.
    10. Tony G is THE BEST Resource for doing all of this. A grand thank you for this blog.

    Karen FM on

  • I released a total of 608 Monarchs! Females 317,males 291.I live in Bettendorf, IA

    Kim Waterman on

  • I no longer collect end of season cats, however, my dear husband saw a #4 cat eating milkweed in my garden. “ I can’t just leave it out there for some other critter to eat”, said he! I already had about 12 cats in different stages in my raising squares, I swore I was not going to bring any cat disease to my healthy cats so I resurrected my first cage that I had already cleaned and placed the cat on fresh milkweed. A few days later lo and behold, there was a beautiful chrysalis that, 10 days later was healthy male monarch. My husband gloated😉
    I raised only eggs this year, had much better results. I watched her laying the eggs and collected them immediately. 100% eclosed. I raised over 100 butterflies, 15 in the 4 th generation.
    0 accidents
    0 diseases
    0 chrysalis issues
    I’m not bragging…I’m just a retired old lady who loves nature and all of its miracles. I’ve learned a ton from Tony along with what I’ve gleaned from Journey North and Univ of Minnesota web site. I feel like the mother of all of them!
    PS, I also talk to them when I clean their cages and check on them throughout the day😳

    Laurel Sedlacko on

  • Hello, we released 38 monarchs this summer, it was our first effort. We live in Central Florida, we still have a male and a female who are always at the tropical milkweed. Almost forgot, we also released 24 black swallow tails as well.
    Have a great fall season,
    Richard

    Richard on

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