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by Tony Gomez

A year 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

A year ago

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By Tony Gomez

Raise the Migration 2020- Share Your Raising Butterflies Experience

by Tony Gomez

A year 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?

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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 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
BEFORE
A Monarch Caterpillar After Shedding its skin and face cap
AFTER

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

347 comments


  • Hi, I live in Southern Maryland and I released 56 Monarchs this year. It was very rewarding.

    Rosanna Noyes on

  • My neighbor and I begin bringing in eggs at the beginning of June to her huge screened in porch in Tomahawk WI ( northern WI) This year, we raised 338 healthy monarchs and less than 1% fatalities in all stages. We keep the porch area pristine..cleaning frass many times per day and we have a plethora of common milkweed at our disposal. I think this is why we had such great success. We did notice that we had many more monarchs born in the 3rd generation and sadly, less monarchs born in Aug-Sept, as eggs and cats were difficult to find.
    We really like using the large milkweed tubes and find that cleaning the areas are easier and also distancing cats according to size.

    Cathy on

  • I had 59 in chrysalis at one time. So far I have raised and released 78. I still have caterpillars and several chrysalis hanging.

    Gail Woody on

  • I released my last Monarch here in Delaware on Sept, 21st. For a total 126 this year. A rust like fungus occurred on my milkweed leaves this year. So I run out milkweed leaves early. i found some milkweed growing near a field
    of corn and gave them to my caterpillars. I noticed some of caterpillars were dying after eating these leaves. I realized the fields of corn were being crop dusted and immediately stopped using those leaves. I found a safe location for harvesting milkweed leaves and everybody was doing well again. Phew!!
    The Mexican sunflowers were a big hit with the Monarchs as well as other Butterfly’s and the Hummers. Will certainly be planting them again in the following years. Look forward to next year and starting again to help save the Monarchs.

    Heather on

  • Hi. We raised 27 healthy Monarch butterflies this year here in northeast Florida. They all flew well and appeared healthy. This is not the whole story however. Way back in March we experienced some personal health issues and I was not able to check on our milkweed garden as usual. One day I happened to look at the plants in our garden and was surprised to see that the milkweed plants had been stripped bare and were covered with large monarch caterpillars so I am guessing that many more butterflies hatched successfully. This was a good year for our usual other butterfly friends the zebra, black swallowtail and yellow sulfurs. They fly happily and provide much enjoyment.

    Charles Trevey on

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