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by Tony Gomez

3 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

3 years ago


By Tony Gomez

Raise the Migration 2020- Share Your Raising Butterflies Experience

by Tony Gomez

3 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


  • 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

  • I raised 23 healthy butterflies this summer. 12 females and 11males. The final batch were all raised from eggs.

    LInda Popp on

  • I live in Louisville Kentucky and have only seen one monarch all summer. She did drop off 9 eggs which all 9 enclosed on august 17th healthy females according to my husband who tended them while I’m vacationing in Leland Michigan where the migration is on!!Huge monarchs only stopping to nectar up. Hope to see them in Kentucky

    Laura Whitty on

  • I am a snowbird and go to Florida for 6-7 months of the year. This Spring I releases 48 Monarch Butterflies 42 Females and 6 Males. I will be going back in early October and should have around 100 more before the end of December I have a group of people in our Butterfly group and we did over 500 Monarch in 2020 total. Our group is getting bigger so we should break that number in 2021. I became facinated with the Monarchs 2 years ago at our campground in Florida. My wife and I now have started to get people to release and name the butterfly and it has really taken off in both the campground and Dialysis center in the area. Nurses have asked me to name a butterfly for their children and parents so I photograph the release and give them a picture of the Butterfly with the Name they gave me. You would not believe the happiness that surrounds doing this for them. The smiles and laughter in their eyes makes it all worth doing. To have a butterfly named after you has become a super event in our campground in Florida.
    I am also teaching the people there how to do this and making them aware of the love for butterflies.


  • Being a 2020 snowbird I raised monarchs in SoCal (15 miles inland, S of Santa Barabara which Xerces says is Western Monarch wintering area) from Sept-May and am starting May-Sept in Central MN. I did not count my monarchs in Winter/Spring of 2020, but it was ~50 healthy Western Monarch butterflies released. However, Jan 2020 is when I started paying attention to my loses due to Tachnid Flies and OE. By bringing only eggs in to raise, cutting back milkweed spring and fall, and following Tony’s book suggestions, I had ~95+% success rate. I did not count the cats/chrysalises/butterflies left to Mother Nature in my garden. I know the Tachnid flies are rampant so it’s too hard to watch! Late spring/summer of 2020 I planted milkweed plants and in fall sowed seeds in MN. I saw a few Eastern Monarchs in MN, but did not bring in any to raise. From Sept2020-May 2021 I collected eggs in SoCal: Sept-Dec 2020 I released about 60, Jan-May 2021 I released 81 healthy Western Monarchs. I had outbreaks of OE in Oct and April and cut back all garden milkweeds. In May I discovered that a new milkweed plant I bought from nursery (stated “organic”) had NPvirus. I lost about 15 cats/Chrysalises to OE and NPV. Thus why I now grow milkweed in my garage window as food instead of bringing in milkweed from the garden. I lost zero to Tachnid flies by using the cages. My new adventure for raising Eastern Monarchs in MN starts May 2021.

    Jennifer Flittie on

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