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how to protect monarch caterpillars


You can’t save all monarchs, but you could always insure a few make it by raising indoors. they would probably get noticeably sick if this occurred because of the toxins in milkweed. We use breathable mesh cages that keep caterpillars in, and deadly predators out. Usually when the cat is a instar 4-5 Extremely small, I cant tell if its a fly or ant. I had 2 chrysalis that had formed on top, but last night something actually bit through the screen in 3 places and ate the chrysalis and a cat. I don’t like killing any bugs or spiders and I also don’t like using pesticides but earwigs have really upset me this Spring so I need to figure out a way to keep them OFF my milkweed. Hi Tony! how to protect monarch caterpillars from wasps. Your best bet to find a Zebra Swallowtail caterpillar is in a Paw-Paw plant. I cannot find any info on internet on how to get rid of these bugs. The Life Cycle Of The Monarch Butterfly. I have been raising monarchs for 2 years. We are trying to raise monarchs. Hi Jessica, so sorry to hear this. After work this evening — now — those three darker eggs look like flat silvery circles — sort of like marks where the eggs were. Also, should I remove and destroy the chrysalis that appear to be infested? He used small grains so I used the dust buster on plants and ground. If I use these over plants, won’t the butterflies be unable to lay eggs? I haven’t seen any wasps around, or ants, just a small yellow spider that I put in another garden far away from the milkweed. How should I get rid of the aphids without harming the monarch cats? We live in Spring Texas, we discovered the plant we purchased had a small monarch caterpillar. I tie the bag over the milkweed leaf or branch of leaves and move the caterpillar as those leaves get eaten. I haven’t seen a cat in 20 years, however, despite intense searches. So sorry to hear this Rita…either predators got to them or they crawled away to find more milkweed. I instructed a protective screen to put around my plant to protect the caterpillar outside. However, they have not proven to be a nuisance so we leave them alone, as we do with many insects that butterfly gardeners consider pests. Thanks. Now what I can’t find an enclosure tall enough and I don’t want all my caterpillars to die ..,can you provide me step by step best solution to the most positive outcomes? However, over time, many predators have adapted…, Do you still have questions about monarch predators in your garden? note: yellow jackets aren’t the only predatory wasp attacking monarchs.Paper wasps are the worst monarch predator in our northern garden, on constant patrol for monarch caterpillars. Sorry to hear this Carol, lizard is a definitely possbility! Thank you for your great info! Hopefully these parasitic wasps don’t decide to go after monarchs. I started raising monarch this year, and I’m happy to have lots of caterpillars in my milkweeds! “Caterpillars frequently strip the plant, so to form a chrysalis on a naked plant would leave them terribly exposed,” said Mike Quinn, an entomologist and founder of the Austin Butterfly Forum . great point Haylee! silk coming out its sides. If these are just outside in your garden, you could always bring a few inside to raise. While not experts in monarch caterpillars, the Toronto Master Gardeners are very supportive of Torontonians who grow milkweed to help the monarch population survive and thrive. I move the chryslis into a similar cage to hatch & be released. hi Sue, males need about four days before they can mate…it’s possible he wasn’t ready. I made a little house to raise some indoors, but these flies always find the way to get in, I dont know what else to do. Hi Amy, sorry to hear you lost your baby caterpillars. Hi Julie, there’s no way to control what they are exposed to outside, and it sounds like it may be too late for this caterpillar. If I hang wasp traps, should they be close to the patch of milkweed in my garden, or a bit further away? I am thrilled! however, some of the leaves look weird, curling and a lot are turning yellow. I found that if I grow a stand of milkweed but also keep some ‘lone’ plants (single plants spaced at least 3 ft from other milkweed) that predators focus on the eggs/cats in the stand and those laid/emerged on the isolated plants are more likely to go undetected. P.s. Plant native milkweedIt is important to plant milkweed native to your area to promote biodiversity … I started a butterfly garden just this year. I had ten butterflies emerge on the same day so I had the door open so they could fly out. Would love to see more and when they hatch I will incarcerate the little boogers until they are able to survive on their own. Check out the video at the bottom of this page: Thank you for responding. The Monarch Butterfly in New Zealand If you have a limited milkweed supply, consider removing any spider webs that have been formed on your milkweed plants. A healthy monarch caterpiller spun it’s chrysalis on a planter today & I went to check on it. Monarch Butterfly Garden- Bring Home the Butterflies, Butterfly Garden Ideas and Gardening Tips to Attract Monarchs, Swallowtails, Hummingbirds, and other Precious Pollinators. I clean every morning and night some spider webs and that has help keeping spiders away. I am so confused. I couldn’t find anything on the internet that says that they are also a predator of Monarchs. I have my 60 or so caterpillars in a large butterfly cage with a selection of I then went around my house and found a nest and I sprayed it with a good insecticide. The fly larvae eventually kill the Monarch caterpillar around the time it tries to pupate. If you decide to bring a few in, feed the caterpillars stem cuttings without flowers/buds or serve single leaves. Monarch caterpillars eat a lot and many people find their swan plants are quickly stripped, leaving the caterpillars to face starvation. Only on this plant did the wasps/yellow jackets attack my caterpillars. I really need help with Aphids! I have one butterfly weed plant (tuberosa) which to my amazement this year had about 10 monarch caterpillars on it. My theory is that perhaps the earwig emitted something when the worm chanced upon it, though I can’t find any info online to confirm this possibility. Was looking to see if anyone sells those mesh bags so I could try them out, but haven’t found any other sites mentioning putting bags over the milkweed outside to protect the eggs and little cats. I hope that some big birds in the neighborhood will continue the circle and bring down the population. However, I grew up with sheep, a goat, rabbit, parrots, several dogs, chickens in a chicken pen, and now I have a cat. The flies are killing all the caterpillars. I have a natural milkweed patch, and have quite a few whoppers crawling about. I’d hate to have to cut the plants down, but I also don’t want a female to waste her eggs on something that will kill the cats. This is where two poisonous species have similar markings. I noticed that there was an asian ladybug on the plant. Both flew away as I got closer to try and release the Monarch. The swamp milkweed I have in the yard also has plenty of cats but I notice some will have a very small insect on them. Meme, we used pvc pipe and made frames over the plants and covered the frame with butterfly netting. What should I do?! Ok this is my first year to attract Monarch Butterfly’s and the Milkweed I purchased in the fall is almost 6 ft tall and I have at least 12 caterpillars crawling on them as of today. Will this harm them? Hi Laura, I’m not sure how long warm weather will last in your region. We had to transfer cats on to a rotation of milkweed plants in a zippered pop up tent where the cats could grow, eat, and eventually cocoon. The caterpillars will immediately begin to feed on the milkweed leaves and on its own eggshell. Hi Kate, please use the scientific names…they are many types of milkweed: Milkweed for north american Butterfly Gardens, This is my first year raising monarch caterpillars. I live in FL, besides the wasps & ants, I have a problem with the Geckos eating the eggs & caterpillars. One huge way you can help boost monarch butterfly numbers is to create a butterfly and pollinator-friendly garden! I really think I *could* see them, especially with the magnification. good luck! I had four small plastic containers — each with one egg (one is likely newer than the others — it was still white/cream colored). If you have wasps nest on your property, I would remove them…this helped lower our wasp numbers last season. Did TONS of online research. Any thoughts or advice. I have enjoyed raising monarch butterflies until now. Remember, one monarch lays hundreds of eggs so predators are a necessary evil to maintain a healthy ecosystem in your garden…. I couldn’t bring him inside right away, until I buy him a proper home, but have checked on him several times a day and checked every leaf to make sure he was as safe as possible. I live in Los Angeles in a small apartment with a balcony so I can’t bring indoors due to space and I have a kitty cat that I wouldn’t trust with that. Thanks very much! We do have a cat and a dog, but I didn’t think they would touch them (although I did feed the plants with some fish, blood and bone, which in hindsight may have piqued their interest). Also, I think I read somewhere that they may need protein right now, and juice later in the season. The powdered sugar attracts them, and the baking soda disrupts their digestive tracks, eventually killing them. I do have small 12x12x12 cylindrical habitats, but I can’t fit a pot inside and that requires me to continuously add fresh milkweed leaves several times a day. I live in SW Florida. Not one that I left outside last year survived. This is pretty harmless and I’ve never seen it escalate. I know it’s probably over, but I have to at least do everything I can to try and keep him going. Then I had 8 and no idea what happened to four. I live in Western NY, so no lizards, or frogs are around. The good news is, that there have been many reports of monarchs in Ontario this season (even up north! I have been raising monarchs for two years. Looks like the size of the hole would be just right for a mouse. Is there any way to drive the lizards away without killing them ? In this episode, a spider cuts a monarch from its web, refusing to eat the milkweed-laced butterfly…essentially spinning science into science fiction! I’ve known I had a lot of earwigs around our home but I never dreamed they would bother monarchs. I don’t want to just keep the kit at home during the winter if there is no need. However, you can continue to monitor and hope for the best. It did get a fair amount of eggs before they found it. Monarch butterflies have been decimated by overuse of a toxic herbicide called glyphosate (used in weed killers like Roundup), which kills the native milkweed plants monarch caterpillars need to survive. How To Stop Aphids from taking over your milkweed, According to my research into what the tiny black flying ants/wasps are that are all over my butterfly weed. This instructable takes you even further back in the butterfly life cycle and describes how to raise a monarch from a newly-laid egg into a fully grown butterfly. However, I have seen a few eggs that were laid on the Milkweed flowers. Since these plants are already tall, should I just cut them down and put them in water bottles to encourage rooting and then plant them in solo cups? Twice. I looked through the magnifying glass with a bright flashlight. While it is amazing to watch the monarchs feast on the nectar when they stop by, I get very few eggs from those plants… can see where a 1st instar has been nibbling, I rarely find them. You can help by providing habitat, no matter how small, and by protecting the monarch by using natural pest control methods on your milkweed and other pollinator plants. I was considering adding mountain mint to the butterfly garden but have read it attracts tachnid flies and wasps as well. Without the tent we could only raise a handful this year, sadly. The silky string connected from the chrysalis to the ground is the tell tale sign that the Tachinid fly has struck. I am so committed to raising monarchs in habitats that I acquired habitats from a supplier and now have them available in my website shop at There are ideas on the two attachments below for removing the major species that affect your milkweed (e.g. How can I get rid of them without hurting the monarch eggs, caterpillars, and milkweed? Ok I really hope so! Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillars tend to reside in spicebush. Rather than try to pick up the caterpillar, place a leaf in front of it and give it a gentle nudge on the rear end. Could be a disease?…I tried to raise them indoors and outdoors with same results. My method to ensure survival has been to place 3 of these tall plants into a large Rubbermaid bin that is placed on its side, lined with paper towels all over to catch the frass. They suck the life from milkweed like little orange vampires.. Thank you, I planted mint from the shelf at Home Depot, here in FL. Swamp milkweed is a heavily used host and nectar plant. I am brand new to raising Monarch butterflies. I can’t imagine they would have been eaten by something. Hi Melissa, earwigs are not monarch predators as far as I know. TIP 2:  After raising a batch of caterpillars in the habitat, soak it for one hour in a solution of 10% bleach and 90% water to kill any bacteria or virus or O.e. From what I could tell, the worm had bumped into the earwig. Aphids will not Harm Monarch Cats However they do hurt the Milkweed that your cats are trying to feed from, my advise is to collect all of your monarch cats and use soap and water to kill the aphids on your plants it will suffer ate them and they will die and rinse it emit ly after you are done with soap and water. I’m in Calif. and I need to know if blue bellied (western fence) lizards eat monarch butterfly caterpillars…… I may have a serious problem……, Hi Linda, I’m not familiar with this lizard species, but maybe someone else will know. Website to news article is here:, It’s concerning that parasitic wasps are being used as pest control. We have blue birds feeding in the area, I feed them dried mealworms away from the plants. A monarch caterpillar feeds on a milkweed plant in the Butterfly Pavilion at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont on Tuesday, July 10, 2019. If you are interested in raising your Monarch caterpillars inside, both to protect them and see them turn into chrysalises and then butterflies, several readers have recommended checking Amazon for their enclosures for raising Monarch caterpillars to butterflies. I heard a rumor that petting a dog that has been tick medicated can kill them . Hi Felipe, perhaps our perception of the relationship between monarchs/milkweed was the flaw?? I will definitely add some info about ants to the predator post soon. Thank you. I would double check to make sure you didn’t miss a caterpillar or accidentally bring in a predator. I only found three survivors on the stalks of eaten plants nearby. If you consider that spiders feast on most of the other pests in your garden, I’d suggest keeping them around. Wasps repeatedly attacked smaller caterpillars on my Giant Milkweed. What I have found is placing my smaller Milkweed plants (now in 16oz solo cups) on a table away from Milkweed with flowers and creating another area for the egg laying females to do their thing. About 80% of my caterpillars and chrysalids were killed that year, and it was horrifying and heartbreaking. I use it in spring, as a pre-emergent for weeds/crabgrass, as it’s supposed to be safe for birds and the earth. There was a pallet of them full of tall tropical milkweed full of caterpillars of various sizes on every plant. Ant-killing borax is the main ingredient. I’m presently over 90% egg to released adult butterfly if I get my hands on the egg or the cats. WE’VE SPRAYED AROUND THE AREA BUT IT HASN’T PROVEN AFFECTIVE. You can always try it, but if you don’t see monarchs using the plants or find eggs, I’d try an alternative method…good luck! You can’t save them all from a growing list of predators, but raising a few in a protective cage would make a difference: Also, make sure you are buying plants from a pesticide-free grower. Cover them? yes, some species of lizards also eat caterpillars. Hi Perry, unfortunately large caterpillars aren’t safe from predation either. Home; News and Stories; ... it’s hard to imagine a creature more simultaneously magical and familiar than the monarch butterfly. I have been raising them from eggs on my lanai also. Most monarchs migrate to Mexico for the winter, but illegal logging in that … !…but, the caterpillars are dying just at the moment they try to become chrysalides, they starts to change their colour to black, and they make strange head movements, after that, they died…what do you think it is? Hi Zoi…so sorry to hear this. Years ago I had a wasp chew a hole through window screening to get to a chrysalis. I am sick about this; been successfully raising/releasing Monarchs and have never had an issue with these horrible pests. Entomologists speculate that caterpillars leave their host plants to protect themselves from predators. Hi Joyce, keep in mind predators also work at night. Any suggestions will be appreciated. He applied at room temperature. Looking more closely, I found a earwig right under the path of the caterpillar. Any type of bug spray I can use that won’t harm the caterpillars? I’ve been using this cage for 3-4yrs, no problems. I then remade all my all of my wood frame cages with screening on both sides of the wood. Make the … Hi Cathy, eggs should be spaced apart to avoid this…yes, it is possible. So please, proceed with caution…. I’m not sure what you’re spraying to keep them away, but spraying any toxins/chemicals/pesticides won’t be good for the caterpillars either. I cover the entire front of the bin with a screen & use a suitcase strap to secure it to the bin. It’s a joy to see so very many more caterpillars this summer. So far the 6 are in good shape. Hi Chelsea, many times ‘scarred’ caterpillars turn out to be fine and the scar does not transfer to the butterfly…all you can do at this point is separate and monitor. In my desperation I fed it a cucumber which I read you can do if it’s in the 5th instar and mine was big enough to look like it was. Is it possible that he or she ate some eggs as well? Protecting the Monarch Butterfly. Thanks for the many useful tips. The more I try to get rid of their webs with a large bristled brush, the more I feel that I am spreading them around the garden. I would try posting in a facebook group: Are Painted Lady butterflies a natural enemy of Monarchs? Would you suggest cutting down all the milkweed in late November or so. The Question: I have a number of patches of milkweed throughout my garden, and noticed this afternoon that a group of monarch butterfly caterpillars have eaten nearly all the leaves and flowers of a single plant that sits alone, separated by a driveway from a large patch of verdant milkweed. Monarch caterpillars feed exclusively on milkweed plants, and female...Check the milkweed every day during the spring and summer for eggs. Hi Donna, monarch caterpillars don’t eat mint. Yes, today I witnessed a wasp attack my monarch caterpillar. He’s an instar 4, if that helps! I was startled to learn that the praying mantis is a predator of monarch caterpillars. Wasps are an issue for monarchs across the globe, from the US to New Zealand.. . Hi Sue, I didn’t realize some predators chewed through screen too…with such a small opening I would guess some type of lizard, if those are in your region. I chased it away.. Hi Mike, sorry to hear you have birds that are going after the monarchs…I found a recent bird victim in our Minnesota garden, which is a rare occurrence up here. Bringing a few indoors to raise or maybe covering some plants with netting outside could make a difference…good luck! Hi Shana, the ideas in the post are the only methods we utilize. We’ve had well over 100 caterpillars, and only one has made it to become a butterfly! Hi Ally, while the aphids won’t harm caterpillars, fertilizer will not repel them. Make sure you spread out the eggs to protect them from wandering baby caterpillars…we put about 20 monarch eggs in the 11″ container. Hi Lisa, a lizard is a definite possibility. In recent years there have hardly been a few dozen. Is it possible that they crawled away? If these predators occur in your area, and you discover caterpillars that you want to save, you have two options: 1. How can I prevent that from happening again? Then you have to watch for the ants that will attack the chrysalis! I just successfully hatched 6 new babies! It’s so bizarre. Hi Mark, sorry to hear the predators found your caterpillars. Mantids are skilled hunters that eat a variety of insects including monarchs. Do you have a solution to that????? Why is that necessary? I also live in Los Angeles, and last year we raised 150 monarchs off roughly 15 milkweed plants, some in the ground and some in containers. Spiders can also be carefully relocated to nearby areas. . Any ideas? Can I call and talk to someone to see what is best for me??? I have never seen the level of predators in all the years I have been raising butterflies. Our swamp patch has thrived in partial shade (gets afternoon sun)…I will get a better idea about the poke next season. I do have a boarding house that I use for nursing the catepillars when I catch them on time. This will be my first chrysalis . Hi Jim, lizards are a big problem in your region. Imagine my excitement when I discovered 5 monarch caterpillars! So as I feared as soon as I put the mesh screens over the plants yesterday to protect them from whatever has been eating them, my cats left the plant and climbed to the top of the screen and haven’t moved or eaten since. My guess would be a larger predator snatched it like a bird, mouse, or lizard. I live in Pico Rivera in So. If you raise monarchs, they need at least 3 hours to dry their wings before they are released. I have lizards in my yard that will eat the butterfly eggs just as soon as the eggs are laid. Hi Dawn, not good if a caterpillar crawls over it! If you’re hanging the monarch chrysalis on a flat surface, such as the inside of a cabinet or a piece of wood, you can simply tape the thread in place. Info and ideas for raising monarchs through stage one of the monarch butterfly life cycle. Otherwise, raising indoors is a good way to help more monarchs survive: PS…look at the ‘predators’ page for more ant/wasp solutions, Are there to many predators for the monarch.

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