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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

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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?

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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

348 comments


  • I had a 90% success rate. I have a pretty new garden so I didn’t have many egg and I started end of July and stopped collecting on August 15 (Michigan). I raised 9/10. One died while forming chrysalis. I hope to have a lot more next year and some of my babies will make it to Mexico and somehow tell their babies to come to my garden next year. Lol
    Becky – Zeeland, Michigan

    BEcky BLackburn on

  • Hello – I am located in Anaheim CA and this is my 3rd year raising Monarchs. Each year, I learn more and more, and obviously have more success. This year, I released 78 Monarchs, out of 101 total (77%). Most of my deaths were while they were in the hanging J stage, not sure why, maybe disease?? I may need to rescue the cats off the milkweed earlier, when they are tiny. I am always watching closely when they are ready to emerge from their chrysalis. I’ve had some fallen in the past and end up with crinkled wings that never fully expanded. Heart breaking :( Luckily, I was able to save a few this season by quickly rehanging them. Always so much to learn. But overall I am overjoyed that I released so many. Releasing each and every one really brought me joy and enlightened my spirit. All while doing good for our Monarchs and our environment. Thank you for all the info you have provided over the years. It’s been monumental. From finding my first beautiful caterpillar, googling it because it was so unique, realizing that it was a Monarch, to now raising them. Fun stuff!

    Victoria on

  • I am located in a Chicago suburb and this season I struggled to locate eggs. Being somewhat unsuccessful at growing milkweed in my garden, I rely on sources that are not treated with any chemicals for my eggs and food supply. While I found many eggs early on (May-April) later in the season I was not so successful.
    This year I released 25 females, 21 males, one black chrysalis, 2 cats died, and one female with crumbled wings.
    I would say my most valuable lesson was in developing a simple system for providing fresh milkweed. I use small vases and even small unused baby bottles to hold the milkweed leaves. I cut along the center rib before immersing the leaf. Usually I will fill each container with 4-5 leaves depending on how many caterpillars are in my enclosure. Cleaning the cage is easy with this method, as well.
    My first butterflies were released 6/20/20 and the last one released 9/11.

    Margaret Sundlof on

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