Even though the problems facing monarch butterflies are serious, individuals can still have a positive impact, especially if we work together.
The Ned Smith Center’s Adopt-A-Monarch program encourages individuals to raise and release two or three monarchs using special “rearing tent.” A 13”13”x24” pop-up tent known as a “caterpillar castle” (pictured to the right) will protect the monarch caterpillars from the elements and from potential predators, and ensures that they will not wander away.
Potted milkweed that is either purchased from a green house or obtained in some other way is placed inside the tent. This milkweed provides enough food for the caterpillars to grow before they change into a chrysalis. Daily monitoring of the process is encouraged to make sure that the caterpillars have not exhausted the milkweed supply and that the milkweed has not dried out. We also suggest daily journaling to maintain a record of the development process.
And please, share your results and photos with us!
Here’s what to do!
- Obtain the milkweed necessary for the number of caterpillars you plan to raise. Here links to some are some central Pennsylvania nurseries that sell milkweed:
- Order the caterpillars and the rearing tent from Folk Butterfly Farm, or find the caterpillars or eggs in the wild. Order via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 570-394-7298.
- Monarchs must be shipped overnight if summer temperatures are too hot because the caterpillars will not survive high daytime temperatures. Summer shipping may therefore cost more.
- As far as the rearing tent, we recommend using the 13”x13”x24” castle tent ($15). It’s best to only raise several caterpillars in each tent – this will make it easier to provide those hungry mouths with milkweed!
- Set up the rearing tent and place the milkweed inside. Be sure to place it in full sun!
- IMPORTANT! Milkweed sap is poisonous and can cause health issues. Handle milkweed responsibly under adult supervision. Goggles and protective clothing are highly recommended.
- Place the caterpillars in the rearing tent as soon as they arrive.
- Monitor the progress the caterpillars are making on a daily basis
- Release the monarchs when they have emerged as adult butterflies
- Share your progress with us!