What You Need to Know About
Raising Monarch Butterflies
Congratulations on Taking the First Step!
Raising Monarch butterflies can be such an uplifting experience. It is amazing to watching the caterpillars grow every day. It takes approximately ten to twelve days from hatchling to the chrysalis stage and another ten to twelve days days before they become butterflies.
Once born, the butterflies don't need to eat on the first day. On the second day, they should be fed sugar water/diluted fruit punch or released into the garden. The butterflies will return if you have flowers for them to eat and milkweed for them to lay eggs on. Then the butterfly cycle starts all over again!
Hawaii Monarchs have no reason to migrate because it is warm enough every day. That means that you could have butterflies fluttering in the garden everyday of the year!
Monarch caterpillars eat only milkweed leaves and they eat a LOT of it. There are five different varieties to choose from:
Caterpillar Pop-up Cages
The pop-up cages are available in a variety of sizes:
12" cube $10
24" cage $15
30" cage $20
36" cage $25
The cage should be disinfected between caterpillar cycles to prevent pathogens from making the caterpillars sick. Soak the tent in 10% bleach water for at least 15 minutes. Rinse well and sun dry for at least six hours.
Monarch Kit $50.00
Ready to begin your journey in helping repopulate the Monarchs in Hawaii?
The Monarch kit includes a 2-gallon milkweed plant, a 24" caterpillar cage, a book on How to Raise Monarch butterflies, a bag of food to feed the caterpillars and 15 caterpillars. Written and verbal instructions are provided.
Keep the caterpillar frass (poop) off of the milkweed. The caterpillars will get sick if their poop is on their food. Remove the frass every day and make sure that the caterpillars have fresh food. When there is not enough food, the caterpillars will pupate early and the result will be small butterflies.
Ants, spiders, lizards, pray mantis, wasps, Tachnid fly, and the Bulbul bird are all threats to caterpillars. The Bulbul bird is the only bird in Hawaii that will also eat butterflies. Keep your caterpillars safe by gathering and putting them in the cage when they are small.
Here are helpful links on raising Monarch butterflies
- Three part video on how to raise Monarch Butterflies - VIDEO 1 | VIDEO 2 | VIDEO 3
- Carol Pasternak's "How to Raise Monarch Butterflies: A Step-by-Step Guide for Kids"
- Gardening Know How's article "Tips On How To Grow Kalanchoe Plants"
- Today's Homeowner's article "How to Grow Flowering Kalanchoe"
- How to Tell if a Monarch is a Boy or Girl
- Monarch Lover's article "Chrysalide Problems; Tachinid Flies"
- Butterfly Breeder's Article on Disease Education & Prevention in Butterflies
- Butterfly Fun Fact's article "OE – Ophryocystis elektroscirrha – Monarch Butterfly"
- Butterfly Fun Fact's article "What is wrong with my butterfly chrysalis?"
- A video of Monarch Sipping from Pentas
- Interesting fact from Lucy
- Video of Monarch Butterfly Emerging from Chrysalis