Friday, June 25, 2010

Raising Monarchs

Every year we scour our milkweed plants for little tiny monarch butterfly eggs.  These beautiful and well known butterflies only lay their eggs on the milkweed plant.  Every year we bring in lots of monarch eggs, set up a nursery habitat, and watch them grow into butterflies.  Here's what our habitat looks like.  We supply them with fresh milkweed stems often.  As they grow, they will eat more and more (sound familiar?), so a constant fresh supply of milkweed is a must for this project.  Often, in one jar, we have all the various stages of monarch from egg to chrysalis.

When the monarchs emerge from their chrysalis, their wings are very soft and wet and rumpled.  It's a good idea to give them a couple of hours to begin the drying process before handling them.  But, when you are ready to re-introduce them to the vast outdoors, they are docile enough to hold for a bit.  We take full advantage of this time.

Sometimes they are feisty and fly away immediately.  But more often than not, we can hold them for a good long while before we deposit them onto one of the flowers in our front yard.  Usually, but the next morning, they are off and wandering on their own.  We sure do have a great time learning and loving them while they are in our care!!

It's about time to start looking for their eggs.  The milkweed is getting tall!

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