When is the best time to start raising Monarchs?

by Carol Lahner
(Finksburg, MD)

I live in Central Maryland and was thinking of starting to raise Monarchs. I have a daughter who will soon be an Elementary School teacher and I have a brand new granddaughter who I'd like to have a project to do with.

I have a wonderful garden that gets great light big enough for outside cages, with room for plants of all kinds. My question though is when would be the best time to either get eggs or larvae? I'd love to see them able to migrate.

Karen says
Carol, congratulations on your granddaughter! One of my very good friends is a grandma and she introduced her granddaughter to butterflies several years ago. They are in the photo above. Here is their story.

This young girl now has a passion for butterflies....her bedroom is even decorated with butterflies! They have raised monarchs together and her dad even built her a cage for the butterflies.

You can start some tropical milkweed seeds after Christmas so they will be ready to put in your garden in Spring when the Monarchs return. Here in Minnesota this is usually the end of May - it may be earlier for you. As soon as you see common milkweed plants emerge along the roadside, you can also start checking the bottom of the leaves for eggs or caterpillars.

You can also consider other milkweed plants for your garden. Check out my "Butterfly Garden" pages for other ideas on favorite butterfly flowers and step by step ideas on butterfly gardening.

We usually have about 3 to 4 "broods" of monarchs here and the final one, usually in mid to late August, are the monarchs that migrate to Mexico.

P.S. Your daughter might want to check out the "For Teachers" pages for ideas on butterflies in the classroom.

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