Monarch butterflies are one of the most fascinating and beautiful insects on Earth. Monarchs are also essential pollinators that help keep flowers blooming. We understands the complexity of sustainably raising these unique insects. All our monarchs are raised responsibly from eggs, while incorporating best practices in order to raise the healthiest and strongest monarchs before releasing them back into nature.
While you may find monarch eggs and caterpillars in the wild, only less than 5% of them will make it into a monarch butterfly. This is due to lack of milkweed, predictors, and parasites/diseases in nature to name a few. One of the most common parasites is called OE (Ophryocystis Elektroscirrha), which will impact the growth and development of a monarch caterpillar. We start the process by collecting eggs from their home garden and raise each caterpillar over a 3.5 - 4 weeks period. Eggs and caterpillars taken from the wild are more likely to produce less healthy butterflies due to all the possible diseases in nature.
To ensure the safety of the eggs, the housing they will be raised in is sanitized thoroughly with a diluted bleach solution. This solution is also used to briefly rinse the eggs, followed by a water rinse that cleans off any remaining bleach. This helps prevent disease and outside contamination. The eggs are then placed inside the sanitized box.
During the caterpillar stage, the monarchs are separated into smaller groups inside new enclosures. This is to ensure that if there are any illnesses, not all of the caterpillars will be affected. Unfortunately, many diseases and infections can harm monarch butterflies, and it is essential to catch any symptoms early on.
They are fed on milkweed that has been carefully sanitized during this stage. Each enclosure is cleaned twice a day when the caterpillars are fed. Each caterpillar is individually checked during this time. Any caterpillars who seem ill are quarantined. Their health is the top priority. Any caterpillars that reach the chrysalis stage and seem unhealthy are quickly quarantined and tested via a microscope once they emerge (aka eclose) to a butterfly.
Any wild caterpillars found are raised in separate enclosures designed for the health of wild monarchs. Once they are fully grown, they are released safely into the wild after tested negative for OE.
Once the monarch caterpillars have pupated and are in their chrysalis stage, they are closely monitored for the first 4-5 days. This ensures that there are no signs of poor health and allows time for the chrysalides to be safe for travel. At this point, they are ready to travel to their new homes.