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by Tony Gomez

2 years ago

Raising Book Resources

Raising Hope for the 2020 Migration- Raise the Migration Results

Share Your Raise The Migration 2020 Experience in a Comment Below

2 years ago


By Tony Gomez

Raise the Migration 2020- Share Your Raising Butterflies Experience

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 2020 experience and raise it forward…

Raise the Migration 2020- Share Your Raising Monarch Butterflies Experience

The raising season is coming to an end, so we’d love to hear how many butterflies you released for fall’s annual 2020 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 early August, but monarchs raised at that time aren’t actually migration generation butterflies…they’re actually 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?


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.


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

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 2020 Results

I am counting our 2020 migration generation as all butterflies that eclosed September 1st and after.

Caterpillar Escapes

Since using food container hatcheries for eggs and baby caterpillars, this has helped us to easily keep track of the wee cats until they can be placed in the larger mesh cages. We have not lost a caterpillar for years...

Unexplained Caterpillar Deaths

None to report in 2020

Caterpillar Diseases and Parasites?

There were no caterpillar disease issues to report in 2020. Check out a pre and post molt of one caterpillar graduating from instar 3 to instar 4:

A Monarch Caterpillar is about to molt with protruding face cap
A Monarch Caterpillar After Shedding its skin and face cap

Accidental Deaths?

There have been two accidental deaths this year...seems fitting for 2020. 🙃

1. This was an odd fluke that happened in an egg hatchery. There was one container with two eggs that looked like they might have fungus issues from the leaves I found them on.

After monitoring, I thought one of the eggs had succumbed to a rust-like fungus that was growing around it. Little did I know, the caterpillar had hatched and crawled under the paper towel that lined the hatchery....there was even a fresh milkweed leaf under the fungusy leaf piece.

This has never happened before so I was shocked to find the dead baby cat as I cleared out the hatchery.

2. On a cold morning in the 3-season porch (low was 40° F), I picked up the floral tube/racks (with milkweed and caterpillars) and walked it into the kitchen without using the boot tray. Two of the cold, lethargic caterpillars fell to the floor. I rescued one...and stepped on the other. 😔

Chrysalis Problems

Chrysalis formation was perfect this season. I conducted 6 removing/rehanging experiments this year: 3 chrysalides hung up with pins, 2 hung up on a microfiber cloth, and 1 taped to the floor:

6 Monarch Chrysalides Rehung- Raise The Migration Experiment

All 6 butterflies eclosed with no issues and the butterflies were released to join the 2020 monarch migration. The last male emerged Sunday October 11th, and was released on Monday October 12th:

6 Monarch Chrysalides Rehung- Raise The Migration Results

Butterfly Eclosures

All butterflies emerged from their monarch chrysalises without issue.

Final Results

2 accidental deaths

0 disease or parasite issues

0 unexplained death

4 healthy males

5 healthy females

82% survival rate

Lessons Learned?

Of the two caterpillar accidents that occurred this season, one was a fluke that will likely never happen again.

However, the 'stepping' accident could have been easily avoided if I would have just followed my own advice for caterpillar safety. If moving caterpillars outside of the cage, place them on a boot tray so they will never fall on the floor.

I also learned that keeping chrysalides in the 3 season porch at night (during the fall) is a bad idea for our northern region. Cool night time temps slowed down metamorphosis by at least a week, meaning the excellent window I had to release butterflies in warm weather, quickly shrunk to just a few days.

The chrysalises get plenty of exposure to natural lighting and temperatures during the day through open windows. If these monarchs would have been left to fend for themselves outside, their wintry fate would have been sealed...🥶

Also, my preferred way of rehanging chrysalides is pinning the silk to the top of the cage. Really though, all 3 methods work well, so do what you're most comfortable with when you need to rehang a chrysalis.

August 2020 Migration Memory

And now, here’s the part I’m most excited about…hearing about all the valuable lessons you learned raising monarchs over the past few weeks!

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 2020


  • I found a total of 58 caterpillars this year, compared to 6 last year. I released 45, had one deformed butterfly, 2 died, and the rest are still hanging in their chrysalides. I had many of them make their chrysalis on leaves and I moved them to a repurposed jewelry tree that worked well. It is now October 20 and it is starting to getting cold, I do not know if they will elcose in time to leave or if they are infected. I will wait and see.

    Susan Spelman on

  • We don’t have anywhere inside to raise butterflies but I do plant tons of milkweed and have butterfly bushes, zinnias and cosmos. Over the years, I am learning to plant milkweed in stages because by September there are hundreds of hungry caterpillars with no food if I don’t plant that way. We used to have a lot of wild milkweed in fields but uninformed people like to kill it. Every year we have well over 100 caterpillars and butterflies. Since they are outside, it’s hard to keep count. If I knew about monarchs growing up, my life would have taken a much different path. I love doing this!

    Sally Cochrane on

  • I released 152 butterflies from Feb. through Sept. this year. (Yes I actually had caterpillars in Jan. & butterflies in Feb.! Very shocking to me even though I live in southern Calif.) My success rate was not good due to the tachinid flies infecting too many of the caterpillars. 4 of the 331 caterpillar deaths were due to mishaps (one drowned in a small puddle of water in the cage, 1 was squished by a falling flower tube & one that I accidentally stepped on.

    I had 8 butterflies that died after eclosing due to malformed bodies.

    I’m still trying to find a good way to keep the flies away from the milkweed. Last year I had fly traps which helped but it sometimes seemed that the traps brought more flies than not having traps. (The traps were on the opposite side of the yard from the milkweed.) This year I didn’t use the traps but I made sure to check the plants at least twice a day to look for the caterpillars. Hopefully I’ll have better luck next year.

    Cathy West on

  • 2 Oct 21
    2021 Raise the Migration Report
    George Slama, South Yarmouth, MA Cape Cod

    Healthy Males Healthy Females Healthy Total Deaths TOTALS Survival Rate
    Gen 3 8 Jul 21 – 18 Aug 21 19 26 45 2 47
    Gen 4 8 Aug 21 – 25 Sep 21 24 31 45 4 48
    Totals 43 57 90 6 96 93.3%
    Final Results
    accidental deaths 1 part of wing caught in chrysalis, malformed
    disease or parasite issues 5 2 instar diseased, 1 partially formed chrysalis,
    Totals 6 2 black chrysalis
    Raising the Migration – Trends
    2017 5
    2018 153 + 306%
    2019 45 – 345%
    2020 54 + 23%
    2021 90 + 67%
    GOAL: Reduce deaths from falls during butterfly emerging at top of cage.
    RESULTS: 0 Deaths in 2021.
    Several days after a chrysalis was formed, I moved them from the top of the cage and created a “chrysalis tree”. I would double up sewing thread and create a loop and slip it over the chrysalis and gently tighten. I would then add another knot. I would gingerly loosen the silk around the chrysalis anchor with a pointed implement. Once removed, I would add a few more knots, incorporating the silk in the knot. Then add the glorious structure to the tree staggering them so they do not get wet when a butterfly above it emerges.
    See y’all next year.

    Be Safe-

    PS Tony, how do I upload several associated photos for my post?
    George Slama on

  • Our 3rd year. 1st year raised 33, 2nd year 96 and this year 178! Found first eggs on our common milkweed plants on May 25th. Last year’s lesson may be specific to us or other towns with several lakes. City sprays for mosquitos twice a week through spring, summer and into fall. And Because of the spraying I decided to test my milkweed on 2 caterpillars feeding them off my plants only. They appeared to grow and be healthy, went into prefect chrysalais on time. But with they enclosed they were missing legs and antennas. So I called the city and they said they use butterfly safe products. We also asked them not to spray by our house. Because of this we can’t use our plants as a source of food, but are able to harvest eggs. We do live in a small town and are able to find milkweed on gravel roads, by lakes and believe it or not,close to cemeteries! It does mean we have to out every evening when we have many in 5th instar. I use plastic food containers that our takeout food comes in, they have clear tops and black bottoms. Then when the caterpillars are around 2 instar they get moved to clear shoe boxes and then into larger plastic bins bought at Hardware store. Lastly after turning into chrysalais I remove them from where they are and tape onto coffee filters which I then safety pin to top of netted butterfly cages. Everything is lined with paper towels. Steve made me wooden stands with drilled holes so I can place the floral tubes in either at and angle or standing upright. These work really well. I do tape shut any holes that are not being used to make sure no one wanders into them and gets stuck. This year we had one butterfly which had her tip of wing folded and another who went into chrysalais between a milkweed branch and wooden holder, it turned into a badly deformed chrysalais. The poor butterfly was in very bad shape and struggling terrible I quickly placed it into the freezer. This year’s lesson is when traveling with them to ducktape everything in place so no sliding occurs and everyone arrives alive. I have a screened porch where they stay. Last released monarch, beautiful gal on Sept 27th!
    Caterpillar escapes 2 found in chrysalais and left where they were, was able to move into netted cages after they enclosed.
    Unexplained deaths 5, probably mosquitos spray poisoning.
    Caterpillar diseases and parasites none
    Accidental deaths 4
    J Lindenfelser, Howard Lake, Minnesota

    Joyce Lindenfelser on

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