Wednesday, September 3, 2014

So a little bit more about my operation: The first step to raising healthy monarch butterflies is to have plenty off food for your caterpillars (cats.)  I prefer feeding them tropical milkweed, an annual in my NW Indiana garden. I plant it in pots so i can easily pick them up and look at the undersides of the leaves for eggs. Don't forget to look at the tops of the leaves and around the flower buds.  Tiny cats. will hide among the buds. I plant about 5 seedlings in each pot. It was suggested to my, by a friend, that the monarchs sometimes like brand new baby plant to lay eggs. I potted up some midseason seedlings and it did the trick. I saw an increase in egg laying immediately. As of tonight my collection total for the summer is 1,157!

Once you know what you are looking for, collecting is easy.

The eggs are very easy to see.

When I bring the eggs in the house, they go right into hatching boxes. These are just plastic storage boxes. They need to be big enough that there is good air in there. Open daily to get fresh air inside. A piece of damp (not wet) paper towel goes on the bottom of the box. You must keep the leaf moist and supple until the egg hatches. 

This season I moved my operation indoors because the weather here has not been favorable to using my cat. house. Plus hubby promised to build a better one for me. So into the tiny utility room they went. I use 10 G aquariums on end to accommodate tall stems of mw and vases with small openings. I prevent cats. from falling into the water by using ones with small opening and I jam a wad of waxpaper in the opening to secure the stems and seal the water.

Sometimes there are too many eggs for my hatching boxes and I have to improvise. This is only temporary, once a box frees up it is sterilized and the eggs are moved up to the larger container. It is so important to not overcrowd the cats. Overcrowding  can cause bacterial contamination that kills. Clean your containers Everyday to prevent this. It will be necessary to move the cats. out of the box to do the cleaning. 
That's all for tonight!


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