Rasing butterflies indoors

Reading the website, it sounds as though it may be possible for me to raise Monarchs indoors during the winter?....it's Dec. already but would it be possible to order and plant the Tropical Milkweed seeds or get cuttings at this time and then when mature, order Monarch eggs or caterpillars from you? Or is the sequence different?

Karen says:
It all depends on where you live. In Florida, monarchs are seen year round so you could raise them in the winter. I would only raise butterflies indoors if the temperature is above 60 degrees outside. Otherwise, you can't release the butterfly outside when it emerges and they won't have any nectar for food. If you start the tropical milkweed seeds inside after the first of the year, it will take a few months for them to be big enough to feed a monarch caterpillar. In the spring you can order monarch eggs or caterpillars, raise them inside and release them.

Comments for Rasing butterflies indoors

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Feeding 5th Instar 'cats'
by: cindy

I appreciate your sharing information such as this. Living in the northern region of the US and raising Monarchs, twice in the past six years there was no LIVING milkweed left due to drought for some late bloomers and wish I'd known about this solution then.

I wonder if I should know the specific names/ varieties of the particular host plants you used?

I ask because it might matter to the caterpillars' acceptance and nutrient values could possibly differ between varieties. I'd rather see if I can grow the types you've already 'tested' and grow in NZ than have to recreate the wheel.

Some of the Monarchs I've raised refuse to switch from one kind of milkweed to another. Maybe if they'd gotten hungry enough they eventually would have switched but I didn't want them to suffer.

I've raised some very finicky silk moth caterpillars that,for instance, would ONLY eat PAPER Birch leaves (of the 3 Birch varieties growing here.) Some I was raising got awfully hungry and I felt so bad but finally through trial and error found a paper birch on my land and presented it to some very happy Cecropia silk moth caterpillars!

Thanks again for being willing to share and pass along knowledge. I think that's what knowledge is for, don't you?

Feeding the monarch caterpillars pumpkin, squash or cucurbit family
by: Karen

Wow that is fascinating - I have never heard that before about feeding the last instar the pumpkin, squash or cucurbit family.

I am curious if you have ever tried feeding the earlier stage larvae or exclusively feeding the larvae using the cucurbit family?

How interesting - thanks for sharing this!

Emergency food for Monarch larvae
by: Jacqui Knight

Hi Karen and all

Do you know that if you run out of milkweed, you can feed the last instar larvae on pumpkin or squash (or any fruit in the cucurbit family). By fruit, I mean of course the part that holds the seeds, but we tend to think of these as "vegetables" when we look for them in the stores, not "fruit". Pumpkin, squash, cucumber, zucchini etc.

We do it all the time here in New Zealand when we have too many larvae (caterpillars) on our plants and run out of food.

For further information, see www.monarch.org.nz.



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