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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


  • Warminster, PA
    Released last of 52 monarchs 11/4! We had a nice window of butterfly weather that week & kept this poor butterfly inside for a whole week because weather was too cold to release. This was my first year raising & I got to a late start. I didn’t sex them, maybe next year. I brought in eggs & cat-napped all stages. Lost about 8 cats during chrysalis process to tachnid fly. I will still take cats of all stages next year, as even if already parasitzied, I can kill the parasite & stop the following generations. Learned that caterpillars & butterflies can make sounds. Anyone ever hear cats squealing? I have when they were fighting for hang spots (they all wanted same corner) & when I had 3 butterflies in one cage & again were fighting for best spot.

    Cindy Lochel on

  • I released 1057 Monarchs, 985 from 9/1 to 10/26 all from eggs & cats I found on my 3 types of Milkweed grown in several patches around my yard. Looking for eggs is backbreaking work, especially in hot, humid Baltimore, Maryland. In August & September it seems all I did was start combing plants for eggs at dawn, cut & wash milkweed, clean mesh tents several times during the day (THANKS!!! for the invaluable advice of using a keyboard vacuum – what a miracle tool) and continue the hunt for eggs for another few hours before dark, cut, wash & load the fridge with even more leaves to be ready to feed those voracious cats first thing in the morning. Since eggs hatch every 3-4 days I had to keep to a schedule for monitoring each Milkweed patch. I decided to raise Monarchs from eggs this year because of the HUGE Tachinid fly predation problem I encountered last year. Your guide was my bible and Google was useful for additional information. Since I had so many friends come over who thoroughly enjoyed learning about Monarchs and loved helping release them, I invited neighbors on NextDoor to come see what I was doing. I had SO much fun – people came mornings & afternoons to learn, talk about and join in the magic of Monarchs. I shared my plants and your web site with all of the people who wanted to get involved raising Monarchs next year.

    I found little plastic/stainless steel “clothes pins” on Amazon (used in sewing) that are an excellent tool for hanging fresh leaves on the ribs of Milkweed cuttings – the structure remaining after the cats have munched away the leaf (used with the floral tubes & stands/styrofoam.) These allowed me to use leaves that were just starting to yellow at the edges which I trimmed off before washing and using, and I didn’t have to chop up the whole plant. I used them to clip chrysalides so they would hang. Being plastic/Stainless steel they are washable and don’t rust.
    I cut off most of the seed pods on Common Milkweed which sure reduced the population of Milkweed bugs.
    Another tip from you I would have used earlier is to bring the chrysalides inside my home when the weather turned colder at night so that chrysalid stage would not be detrimentally extended. That happened to 27 chrysalides – the final batch released the last week of October went at least 2 weeks longer than expected.
    I had a great 2020 Monarch-wise!!

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge. ❤️

    Linda Burns on

  • We live in Illinois about 35 miles east of St Louis, MO. This is our fourth year raising monarchs. Due to a variety of reasons, we only raised the migratory cats this summer and failed to track our survival rates this year. We have 10 tents that are kept on shelving outside in a protected area under a roof on my back porch. We have mostly common milkweed. We have some butterfly weed and a few swamp milkweed. I had to replant all my swamp this year since none came back from last year. We had a lot of black fungus on our early season milkweed that I ended up having to trim back almost to the ground. We try to only bring in first instar or eggs to raise (predominantly eggs though). We had 2 losses at J stage due to tachnid flies. We had 2 chrysalises that turned black and got very soft, and one that turned brown and got very soft. We had a few very small slightly malformed chrysalises that were formed by slower developing cats and never eclosed (or were euthanized). We had 3 adults that were euthanized due to OE. Strangly, until today, we had successfully released 19 males and only 9 females this season. I found that gender split to be very odd. I had 8 very late season chrysalises that I ended up bringing inside a week and a half ago since our weather turned extremely cold and rainy for about 2 weeks. All but one eclosed, and ALL 7 WERE FEMALE! We have beautiful unseasonably warm dry sunny weather this week , so we successfully released them today, ending our season total with 19 migratory males and 16 migratory females.

    Heather Tegeler on

  • I forgot to let you know I live at Newport, Ohio east of Marietta near the Ohio River across from West Virginia.

    Rema Robbins on

  • As of October 24, 2020 I have released 255 Monarchs from caterpillars I collected from my Annual and Perennial Milkweed several varieties of both. I use very little common Milkweed.
    I raised Annual Milkweed from seed to attract and feed. I first noticed caterpillars August 14, 2020. To date October 27, 2020 I still have some Chrysalis with cooler weather I am not sure if more will Eclose. This is my second year for raising and releasing Monarchs last year over 100. I did experience some loss. Some Chrysalis by accident do to wind. I had heavy rocks anchoring the frame inside the tent. The rocks crushed a few Chrysalis No accidents once I anchored the one tent I had on a table. I had a total of three tents this year. Keeped me busy keeping the caterpillars fed.
    The one on the table I used a frame with dowels and tied the Chrysalis to the dowels with dental floss.
    The Monarchs used an Annual Milkweed called Hairy Balls (plants I purchased both years) for most of their eggs. This year I have seed collected from Hairy Balls hopefully to raise plants next year.
    The most eclosed in one day was 24 Monarchs. I place pots of Annual Milkweed in the tents to feed as well as tubes with water and stems of Annual Milkweed.

    Rema Robbins on

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