Attempt at raising monarch butterflies

One of my goals when buying a house with a yard was to plant some milkweed to help the monarch butterflies in their great migration. After moving in, on my first trip to the local garden center I made sure to pick up a swamp milkweed plant to see if it liked our yard’s conditions. To my surprise, early this week, up sprouted a HUGE common milkweed plant behind some of our perennial landscaping!

UntitledLily came running to me “a monarch! A monarch butterfly!” and we nearly ended up late to her swim lessons on Monday after watching two flutter around the yard, landing on these surprisingly tall stalks. Untitled

Then, much to my upset, our landscapers accidentally pulled the milkweed on Tuesday. He felt horrible, and I know for other people they likely would have considered it a weed and he would have gotten in trouble for NOT pulling it. I still cried. And replanted it. And only the stalks came out and no roots so I’m hopeful it will return next year, but I don’t think the replanted stalks are going to take.

Anyway, this made me look at the underside of the leaves…just in case. And much to my surprise there were monarch eggs!

11059356_10101262538979047_2871874153345668851_n(Bottom right turned out to just be dried milkweed sap…I knew it didn’t look quite right to be an egg.)

So, knowing that this large plant likely wasn’t going to make it, I brought the eggs inside. And also knowing that I had accidentally eliminated some milkweed in our yard I went out to the local garden store and bought four more plants.

I also went out and checked our young swamp milkweed that I had planted a few weeks ago, and much to my surprise…eggs!

UntitledAnd even a caterpillar! 11755234_10101263314569757_2594373653747686347_n This made me check the new plants and even more surprises! A BIG caterpillar came with me from the garden center and I didn’t even notice!

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So everything came to live with me inside, which I am still quite terrified about. I did it though because they have <10% survival rates in the wild, given conditions and predators, and 90% in captivity so that they can be released. So I’m going to give it a try. We’ll have started with 2 caterpillars and 8 eggs (half on common milkweed, half on swamp milkweed). The first common milkweed egg from the dying plant hatched yesterday.

IMG_3293Unfortunately that little one didn’t survive overnight. I’m not sure what went wrong. So we’re already at our statistical 90% rate and we haven’t even really started. Eek. Another one of the eggs is getting dark (meaning it’s going to hatch SOON), while the rest are all still white. I wonder if they’re duds. I hope I don’t mess this all up! Untitled

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