That idea didn't last long. I changed my mind, early in November, the minute I saw an Asian Paper Wasp attack a half-grown Monarch Caterpillar and try to carry it off. The caterpillar died and so did the wasp (we killed it). I decided that, if it those gorgeous caterpillars were going to be kliied that fast, I still needed to step in.
So here we are - caterpillars and chrysalis's all around us in the house.
Bless their little cotton socks, they are doing really well.
Here's what happens. I collect eggs, as soon as I see a Monarch butterfly lay them. Yes, I'm doing this in a scaled down version of how I have managed my Monarch raising, in previous years, but I'm doing it.
My method -
- I collect 8 eggs at a time (just because 8 is a managaeble number).
- I hatch the eggs indoors.
- I transfer the tiny caterpillars to swan plant (milkweed) stalks with leaves, that I have already picked and have sitting ready in a jar of water. When you cut the swanplant, you need to lightly smash the ends of the stalks to let the water soak up. If you don't do this, the stems will rapidly wilt and die.
- I feed the growing caterpillars more and more swanplant stalks/leaves, as needed.
- I clean away the caterpillar frass (pooh) every day - several times per day as they get bigger.
- After they have formed their chrysalis, I wait about 2 days (lets the outer chrysalis skin harden) and then I transfer the chrysalis to the end of a toothpick, label it with the date the chrysalis was formed, and poke the other end of the toothpick into a stick of florist's foam.
- Once the 8 caterpillars have formed their chrysalis, I collect 8 more eggs (and so on I go).