Help supporting Monarchs in progress?

Hi! I’m new and totally not a scientist or biologist, so I apologize in advance if this is the wrong place to post this.

I’ve got a garden with a few pots of milkweed, and have about 6 large monarch caterpillars (about 2-3 inches in length)

I had one go into chrysalis on April 4th (so it’s looking like it won’t be coming out?)

I’m trying not to interfere and let nature take its course, but I lost one to a spider last week and if there’s anything I can do to help make sure this next ‘class’ make it through (aside from finding that spider!) I’m eager to help the monarch population.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! : )

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(moved from General to Nature Talk because it’s not directly related to iNaturalist)

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Welcome to the forum, @sonjafely.

I can’t believe I’m saying this but: don’t hurt that spider, it’s just doing its job! :) If you do find it you can encourage it elsewhere unless it has eggs fixed somewhere (Then we’ve waded into a larger ethical and relative question above my pay grade)

You might try very carefully providing a light row cover, fine netting/tule or other protective but porous fabric around the relevant parts of the plant attempting to exclude predators prior to tying off. With this method you must check constantly so you don’t trap the adults for too long. I’ve not done this myself so can’t attest to the success rate but I believe netting is used to both include or exclude leps and other “pests” in agricultural applications. I use row cover but haven’t tried to use it to protect any insects yet. Perhaps that’ll help!?


Thank you Mira! I am with you on the spider’s right to live, and am pretty committed to letting nature take its course, (circle of life, etc) but I really would like to help these other caterpillars make it to the other side.
The netting would work while they are on the plants, but they seem to do pretty well while they are still on the plant, and appear to leave the plant when they are ready to go into the chrysalis stage. I watched the 2 other adults as they appeared to be ‘scouting’ locations for their chrysalis and it seemed like they had some pretty specific requirements for their ‘spot’ - from what I’ve read they often can travel long distances to do so.
I haven’t wanted to interfere, since I assume that they know best where they should go into metamorphosis, but if I knew that it would help them by putting them somewhere safe…or bring them to a conservancy maybe? I don’t know, it just seems like such a shame not to help them along. their species needs all the help it can get…
Thanks again!! :)

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I’ve been raising monarchs for a couple years now. I recently built a box frame out of 1 inch balusters and wrapped it in cloth window screening. My routine is to collect the caterpillars from my milkweed bed before they reach their 4th instar stage and move them to this enclosure that has potted milkweed and cuttings within it and let them develop further from there. They almost always go to the screened lid on top and pupate there.


I’d say maybe keep a few in a sealed enclosure and focus on raising those successfully, and then let the rest dice with nature so at least some sort of ecological balance is struck in terms of invertebrate predators being able to maintain their populations?

Also, this is a personal view of mine but I honestly feel that monarchs are like the honey bee analogy to butterflies in the sense that there are pretty much the most numerous butterfly species in the USA, when compared to other lesser known species. I just feel there is also an element of human bias in that monarchs are large and beautiful and so are visually preferred over other smaller species, eg. Hesperiidae or Lycaenidae. At the same time, raising monarchs is a great way to get the beginner interested in raising caterpillars which hopefully will lead to a passion towards conservation of all Lepidoptera and not just monarchs.


Thanks! I love all butterflies, but these happen to be the ones that have chosen my garden as their home! : )

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thank you! i feel a little bad about relocating them, but this might be a great way to go about it. we actually just bought some window screening to redo our windows, it’s not cloth but do you think it will suffice? we don’t have a lot of room on our porch, but it’s worth a shot!

I ended up with the cloth screen because it’s just easier to work with and doesn’t fray even if you don’t cut it properly like the aluminum screens. It will work of course, it’s just a preference.

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