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by Tony Gomez

A month ago

Raising Book Resources

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

A month ago

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By Tony Gomez

Raise the Migration 2023- Share Your Experience Raising Monarch Butterflies

by Tony Gomez

A month 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

147 comments


  • I live in Fargo, ND and released 154 monarchs this year. Saw my first monarch and egg on May 27th so expected a big year of raising caterpillars but it did not happen. Made me wonder if all the smoke had an effect on monarchs and other pollinators. I had a few butterflies that eclosed but were so weak they did not survive. Could this have been OE? I have decided to invest in a microscope and will start checking next summer.

    Kerri Spiering on

  • I began my journey with raising monarchs for the first time in July. I live in Palatka, Fl, just west of St Augustine and east of Gainesville. As of today I have released 89 butterflies. When Hurricane Idalia was coming up the west coast, the monarchs were laying eggs like crazy and I counted 46 eggs, but only was able to find 30 cats to put in my butterfly houses. These little guys were like a High School football team with their appetites!! Through the summer, I’d put in a few milkweed plants inside the houses, taking them out and replacing them, I would then plant the bare milkweed into my pollinator garden, which Id also started this year. The replanted milkweed saved me with the Idalia cats as I was able to dig them up, and put them in the butterfly houses, but I also had to buy one more plant when I exhausted friends milkweeds!! I have 2 more in chrysalis still, they were late cats that Id found. I’m going to miss checking the recovering milkweed for eggs and checking on the cats to make sure they had plenty to eat and checking to see who made their debut into the world. I bought and planted 3 budlia bushes and would release the butterflies on them so that they would feed before flying off. I had so many monarchs flitting around the garden, Im sure most of them were ones that hatched here!
    On a sad note, I had 2 in cocoon that didn’t make it out and 2 with deformed wings that only made it 3 or 4 days. These were the Idalia eggs so I’m not sure if they didn’t get enough to eat to eat before they cocooned or not.
    I had fun with this project and in my panic to feed the very hungry caterpillar football team, I planted all of the seeds that I’d collected from pods, so those are a few inches tall. Im not certain that Ill have any eggs on them but Ill be checking! And I’ll make sure that I start milkweed earlier in the year next year!!
    Susan on Sept 26th,2023

    Susan on

  • I live in Coldwater MI & I raised & released 318 this season!!That is more than double from last year. I have swamp, butterfly and common milkweed in pots and flower beds.

    Deb Guilford on

  • Gainesville, Florida. I thought we were done for the year BUT when my students were resetting the garden for fall growing , they discovered many eggs. They brought the eggs into the caterpillar cages and 14 more Monarchs have now flown (it was super amazing to the five new students who were not part of Raise the Migration last year). We were lucky enough (and the students were aware enough to go observe the chrysalis when the copper disappeared and saw two of monarchs eclose! Six males and 8 females.

    Kat Hampson on

  • Total release: 7 males:5 females:2
    Date first released: 9/8/23
    Date last released: 9/24/2033

    Bari Newcombe on

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