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by Tony Gomez

11 months ago

Raising Book Resources

Raising Hope for the 2023 Monarch Migration- Share Your Raise The Migration Results

11 months ago

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By Tony Gomez

Raise the Migration 2023- Share Your Experience Raising Monarch Butterflies

by Tony Gomez

11 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 2023 experience and raise it forward…

Raise the Migration 2023- 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 2023 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 how to raise monarchs book (choose paperback or PDF download) 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:

2022- 100% Survival Rate

2021- 86% Survival Rate

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 2023 Results

Monarch Eggs from Raise The Migration 2023- Share Your Experience


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 a few years back when I forgot to close a cage door and found a caterpillar crawling on top of the cage. 🐛 😱


Unexplained Caterpillar Deaths

None


Caterpillar Diseases and Parasites?

None


Accidental Deaths?

I carelessly removed a small caterpillar that was getting ready to molt inside the plastic food container. It was not able to fully shed its skin and did not survive. 


Chrysalis Problems

None


Butterfly Eclosure Issues

None


Final Results

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

This year, we ended up with 9 migration generation monarchs...all have been 'unintentional' after pulling wayward egg-upied common milkweed coming up in the lawn.

So how many survived to reach butterhood?

1 accidental death

0 disease or parasite issues

unexplained deaths

3 healthy males

healthy females

89% survival rate


Lessons Learned

There have been a few lessons learned throughout this season and it's the result of having a new outdoor raising setup.

In past seasons, we raised in a 3-season porch with the windows open, which protected growing monarchs from extreme weather, while still exposing them to environmental cues telling them to migrate. This year, we raised outdoors and barely avoided a couple catastrophes:

  • Protect the cage from heavy rains above- we did this by placing the cage on a bench under an evergreen. On the other side of the deck, we place cages under the awning (prevents drownings and falling chrysalides)
  • If heavy rain is forecast, consider removing the poo poo platter so rain doesn't pool on the cage floor (prevents drownings)
  • Protect monarchs from strong winds- we ended up using two paver bricks in each cage (prevents cages from falling or blowing away)
  • Crowded Caterpillars often Pupate on Milkweed Leaves- We used smaller cages this season and having to use two pavers inside each minimized space which made plant leaves too enticing to form chrysalides
  • If a caterpillar pupates on a leaf that's OK, but separate it from feeding caterpillars (prevents chrysalis from falling to floor if leaf gets eaten)
  • Use your magnifier- our lone accidental death of '23 could have been prevented if I used it to see that a small caterpillar I moved was actually molting. (When you see better, you do better!)
  • Keep Cages away from Predators- we have been lucky with insects and larger predators chewing through the cage to this point, but there is always a greater chance you will have issues with an outdoor raising setup

We were very lucky this season was a success. On a windy night, the cage nearly blew off the table it was on becuase I was using rocks instead of the heavier paver bricks to secure the stage. This could have severely injured or killed most of our brood

I much prefer the indoor setup with exposure to natural outdoor conditions. We will be investing in a greenhouse or arboretum for raising purposes next season and will keep you posted. 

 

Migration Memories 2023

Our Mexican sunflowers were a big hit with migrating monarchs, swallowtails, hummingbirds, and bees this season. Here's a Minnesota Migration Moment from early September:


...and here's our final release monarch female stocking up on nectar September 20th:


I hope you enjoyed reading about my Raise The Migration '23 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 at the bottom of this page and let 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 2023

189 comments


  • This was my best year ever! Last year I released 207 healthy Monarchs. This year I released 504 with 250 of them tagged for the migration. I credit my banner year to the rains we received this year pretty regularly and I have to give some credit to the farmer who raises organic grass in a field across the road from me. Together he and I worked out a plan whereby he would cut down only part of the milkweed in his field on July 1. My milkweed was being used up until that freshly cut milkweed grew back up by Mid July, and all the Monarch ladies I released loved the new milkweed plants and laid many eggs on those plants. I collected eggs as well as caterpillars this season. Mostly I raised from eggs. I raise each caterpillar in a separate container., so when , I had about 5 that died from what I call the black death, it wasn’t passed along to other cats. I also had about 20 that were brought in from outside that had t-fly. I always test for OE before release and about 5 that had OE. I had up to 100 cats at one time, so this was very time consuming, especially when they were in the last 2 weeks before becoming a chrysalis. I enjoy raising Monarchs but am always glad when the season ends as I need to get back to all my outside butterfly garden chores.

    Draxie Justice on

  • I live in north Alabama and I had a record year!! After having zero Spring migrators, I was so disappointed and assumed it would be a sad year. That was not the case since they came with abundance in the summer. My totals are as followed: chrysalis 142, healthy monarchs 125, deaths 17, total of 69 females and 56 males!!! Can’t wait till next year! Thank you Tony and the Facebook group for all the tips and advice. Lesson learned, watch out for the red wasps. I’ve never had them before, but they killed several cats before I could bring them inside.

    Kathy Beckman on

  • This year’s total is 70 healthy releases. We were egg bombed late August and a cold snap delayed our chrysalis from enclosing for more than a month and I was surprised they were all ok. It was a valuable lesson to not rush mother nature.
    I will be planting significantly more potted common milkweed. It made my job much easier. They also liked to pupae on the containers and I let them eclose and fly away on their own..on the safety of my deck.
    I enjoyed watching momma Monarch lay eggs on the potted and just bringing into the enclosure too.
    I feel it was a very successful year all around. I have lots of nectar flowers now and I fed migratory and Swallowtails.
    Swamp Milkweed was wonderful and bloomed for a long time.
    I can’t wait for next year and have already begun prep.
    I wish everyone the best…

    Diane Koske on

  • Tony, I tip my hat to you for all you have taught us and all the information you provide for successfully raiseing and releasing Monarchs. I live in Lorain Ohio and since I started to subscribe to your website / newsletter , I have watched my monarch raiseing increase exponentially! Everything you have preached to us is founded and proven methods. I just released my last solo Monarch this past Wednesday, I confidently released 175 Monarchs. It was a very damp summer here and it seemed to have really subdued oleander aphid infestations until the end of the migration. I would aldo like to add that the milkweedof choice this past summer has been balloon milkweed. The prego female monarchs were just bombing it with eggs day after day. Tankyou so much Tony for all you do for this cause. You truly dont know the impact your shared knowledge has had in saving these wondrous butterflies.

    Drew Modic on

  • I live in Brazil IN
    This is my second comment this year, but I also wanted to thank Tony for his stories, advice and tips. Very helpful and greatly appreciated. I also wanted to add my “Amen!” to the other comments I read concerning how time consuming but totally worth it this hobby can be. To be honest, after the last of my monarchs were released, I felt a little lost, because caring for them had taken up so much of my time. But it was nice to be able to put all the supplies away for another year. I will never grow tired of watching the amazing, awe-inspiring life cycle of one of God’s beautiful creations.

    Susan Fogel on

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