Watch The playlist of videos to the left to learn "HOW TO NATURALLY RAISE MONARCH BUTTERFLIES" Common milkweed grows everywhere in the Midwest and Northeast beginning in June. You can harvest common milkweed stems, catch a monarch laying eggs, and easily raise hundreds of butterflies indoors with a $7 netted popup. Watch and learn how!
Video of common milkweed with monarch laying eggs.
Get a 15 x 15 x 24 $9 or better 24 x 24 x 36 $27 popup hatchery.
Use any vaselike container full of water as a vase for at least 6 common milkweed stems 21 inches long to immerse them in water to keep them green while caterpillars eat the leaves. (leaves shouldn't be under water)
Do not go looking for caterpillars or females laying eggs until you have the milkweed.
If you're in the Midwest or Northeast, common milkweed grows everywhere. Be sure to take a three gallon bucket half full of water with you when you go out looking for milkweed to cut to put your stems in to take them home for your hatchery.
If you are using live 1 gallon tropical milkweed plants pictured at the right be sure to thoroughly spray all milkweed stems and leaves' tops and bottoms with water in a spray bottle before putting in the hatchery even if they have monarch eggs on them.
Remove all other bugs and debris except the eggs from the leaves. If you're using live stems trim the end of the stem just before putting it in the vase. Your vase should look like a bouquet of milkweed.
If you like, buy a clear storage container, drill 1/2" holes in the lid, fill it with water and stick the stems down through the holes so they can take up water. Re-cut the stems and pull off the bottom leaves just before inserting them in the holes so they take up water better.
Milkweed stems immediately start to "heal" when cut, stopping the water from being drawn up into the plant. When you cut the stalk make the cut so there are a couple leaves close up the stalk from the cut.
Pull those leaves off at the stem just before inserting the stem in the holes in the lid of the container and immersing the stem in the water. This will give the stem three places to draw water and will remain green until caterpillars eat it. Immersed leaves will start to have a foul odor.
Put your hatchery or tub "INDOORS" in a window. You will eliminate many predator problems, just by placing it indoors.
Place "ant baits" on the floor and/or around your hatchery to keep ants from eating the eggs.
MY METHOD HAS BEEN OBSERVED AND APPROVED BY U. S. FISH AND WILDLIFE BIOLOGISTS AND BUTTERFLY EXPERTS IN 2006.
Put a caterpillar on each leaf or release a male and female in your hatchery to breed and lay eggs on your milkweed.
Get clean, local breeding stock or caterpillars from a friend or give some to a friend to get them started raising and releasing.
Keep the plants watered. Dry plants will loose leaves and eventually die.
When you get caterpillars, put two on each plant and they will eat the leaves. They won't need any more leaves if there were about 50 leaves on the tropical milkweed or about five big leaves of common milkweed per caterpillar.
Keep adding rinsed stems and The caterpillars will crawl to the top of the popup hatchery and will hang like a "J" and turn into a green chrysalis. A week to 12 days later they will emerge and you will have butterflies ready for release to help increase the monarch population and migration.
These released butterflies will breed again in nature further adding to the monarch population.
Hatchery and plants can be used again if thoroughly disinfected with a 10% bleach solution.
Remove plants from hatchery, collapse hatchery to original folded shape. Put one gallon of water in tub. Add one pint of household bleach. Submerge the hatchery in a tub for ten minutes. Remove hatchery and rinse thoroughly.
Potted Growing Plants should be bleached with a 10% bleach solution in a spray bottle. After two minutes, rinse thoroughly with clean water in spray bottle. During plant growing season put plants outside in the sun, fertilize, put plant coasters under them and keep them watered. After plants recover with new leaves, spray leaf tops and bottoms with bleach solution once more. Rinse thoroughly with clean water.
Hatchery and plants are ready for another generation of raising monarchs!
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