Monarch Caterpillar Care in Florida

I purchased a butterfly weed plant and now have 23 caterpillars which I put into a large plastic container, netting on top for air and a few leaves for food.

Do I need to buy more plants for food,what should I do to keep them alive and for them to become butterflies? I live in Florida and don't have any flowering plants in my garden. Please help. Thank you.

Karen says:
You are going to need a lot of milkweed to feed 23 caterpillars, especially after a few weeks when they get larger. It doesn't look like common milkweed is found in Florida according to the USDA Plants Database. Here in Minnesota you can find it all over in ditches, along roads in swamps, etc. If by chance you have seen some common milkweed, you can cut stems and bring it home to feed the caterpillars. Otherwise Swamp milkweed and tropical milkweed are in Florida so you will have to find some source (nursery, friend or in the wild) to feed your caterpillars.

Here is information on these milkweeds.

I hope this helps.

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Where to buy great milkweek plants in south Florida
by: Anonymous

I could not find milkweed plants anywhere! and I had 28 starving babies that were wandering all over the place looking for food and fighting over 4 leaves. It was awful. I finally found 2 nurseries that have great ones all the time. One in Davie (South Florida) called Living Color on Griffin Road. and one called Pops Nursery on University just south of Stirling Road - I have raised so many beautiful healthy cats that turned into beautiful healthy butterflies from these plants I would recommend them to anyone in South Florida!! You will certainly need a lot for 28 cats. I had 7 plants for my initial 28 and they ate every last stick to the bone!! Ordering seeds is great - but they take a long time to grow - you need food for your babies now!! Hope this helps - I didn't have any luck with Home Depot or Lowes - they don't like all the cats that they have to deal with so they stopped carrying them. Check your local nurseries - google in your area.

Milkweed hunt...
by: Melissa Hawley

I'm not sure where you are in Florida, but I picked up tropical milkweed at Home Depot (they stated their distributor does NOT use pesticide) and I ordered seeds and milkweed starters from They have a bunch of stuff online.

Hope you find everything you need!

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