My reason for butterflying!
It all started when my daughter said she wanted to have butterflies on our backyard! it seemed an appealing idea since it was something I haven't done before and having colored butterfly on my backyard doesn't sounds as bad.
The formula to grow butterflies is simple, you need to provide food and shelter (at the end of this post I have an easy to follow info-graphic for reference) . Although this sounds logic I will describe in detail how I was able to growing dozens of Monarch butterflies on this post.
Milkweed plants by seeds
After doing some google searches I decided to get me some some milkweed plants which will sustain the Monarch butterfly life cycle. The majority of butterflies host plants I have for the moment are milkweeds, I have started to get other butterfly host plants and will update this blog as I can get to grow other butterfly species.
I got my majority of milkweed by planting by seeds, I saw good results of plant growth using seed. It took about 3 months for my milkweed plants to reach about 2-3 feet in height, I will leave the link here of the seeds I've got at amazon.
Shelter / Butterfly cage
I started to noticed the first baby caterpillars on the plants at late summer of 2018, but from I've experience from 2019 I know that Monarch butterflies lay eggs from spring to early fall here in Southern California.
My hopes to have dozens of butterflies flying all around were devastated as I found caterpillars being vanished everyday by their natural predators and I knew I needed to protect them if I wanted to enjoy their colors. After a few failed attempts of doing butterflies cages my self I decided to buy one and give it a try.
And what a difference a real buttery cage made! The cage I used is fully enclosed and it lets air flow in, it also can be re-usable by washing it and storing ti for seasons to come and the convenient zippers lets you easily open and close the cage as needed.
I placed and small milkweed plant inside the cage to provide protection for caterpillars to eat and grow inside the cage. Here are some of the butterflies sizes you could start using today.
Boost released butterfly numbers / Water tubes
The use of butterfly tubes was essential for me in order to increase the number of butterflies released from my cage. I used the tubes to place milkweed cuttings which included eggs laid on them, I then put water in the tubes, placed the cap and inserted the cuttings. These cuttings were taken other milkweed plants outside the butterfly cage.
The tubes will help to keep the cutting fresh until the caterpillars emerge from their eggs and start on eating the cuttings. You need to make sure the cuttings are always in contact with the water in the tubes, from my experience I used to refill the tubes with water every 3-4 days. Here is the link where you can buy these water tubes.
Using the cage in combination with the water tubes allowed me to sometimes release multiple butterflies a day. I also added a link to the growing bags in case you might want to grow several host plant at the time, these bags are great since they allow some air to enter the root ball of the plant and promote aeration to plants.
Recap steps / formula
Here are the summarized steps needed to grow butterflies on this post:
- Collect - Find butterfly eggs from a host plant, you will be making cuttings from where eggs are laid on. Cuttings need to be long enough to be inserted inside the water tubes. Ideally you will want the lower end of the cutting to touch the bottom of the tubing, this is in order to ensure the cutting will absorb as much water as possible during the time the caterpillar grows out of the egg to start eating from the cuttings.
- Protect - One step that worked for me was to place an small potted milkweed plant inside the cage (if plant is too big you could trim the larger branches to fit it in), this plant will be used for the caterpillars to eat while growing. Having multiple outside plotted plants will ensure food and plants to be available trough the season, this is one of the reason why you will want to plant from seed.
- Water - Check on the plant inside the cage and the water tubes containing the cutting, water as needed in order to keep fresh food available for the growing caterpillars.
- Feed the caterpillars - As caterpillars grow by the day you will need to make sure to provide them with enough food by switching new plotted milkweed plants or adding additional cuttings.
- Release - Fun time! enjoy releasing the butterflies and thanks for contributing on saving these species. Butterflies will return to your garden and repeat their life cycle as long as you implement these steps.
I really enjoyed the experience of growing and taking care of monarch butterflies and will be more prepared for next season to release in higher numbers. I hope you liked this post and let me know if you have questions on any stage of the process in the comment box, good luck raising yours! I will leave a few pictures of some of the releases!
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