This summer, after seeing a stand of milkweed alongside a back road that had just been mowed, I decided to stop and look for caterpillars on the dying weeds. I found a few and brought them home, thus beginning my first foray into raising Monarchs.
So far, we've raised and released four females and three males, with several more caterpillars and chrysalids yet to go. It turns out that I am absolutely terrible at spotting eggs, though; nearly every time I bring in new milkweed for the enclosure, even after I rinse it to remove OE spores, I end up with a brand new little caterpillar in a few days. It certainly has been a learning experience!
After releasing the latest hatch, I visited the "butterfly patch" in my pasture; there's an area of about an acre that we don't mow, and it's chock-full of Joe Pye Weed, Ironweed, Mountain Mint, and what seems like virtually every flower known to man. The butterflies seem to love it; I counted 6 Monarchs, 3 Tigers, a Buckeye, and various other Swallowtails that I have yet to compare photograph-to-book to identify properly. I will have to post those soon! Here's hoping for good weather this weekend, so I can get out there in the early afternoon when they'll be most active!
Here are just a few of the photos I've gotten during the process. I believe that next year, I'll be ordering a tagging kit so I can keep track of how many stay around.