Don’t give up!

Things go wonderfully well in our indoor rearing area and then disaster happens. Caterpillars die. Chrysalises pupate deformed. Adults don’t emerge or emerge crippled. It’s easy to want to give up. Hang in there!

Monarch butterfly caterpillars eating Giant Milkweed

Monarch butterfly caterpillars eating Giant Milkweed

Remember, nature is against you. It keeps a species alive by killing most of the individuals in the species. As we raise them indoors, we are fighting nature even as we are aiding it.

Monarch butterfly caterpillar eating a milkweed flower

Monarch butterfly caterpillar eating a milkweed flower

When disaster happens, remember that you can’t always win. Nature is stronger than we are. We must fight and trick nature into keeping more alive than it intends.

Monarch butterfly caterpillar eating milkweed

Monarch butterfly caterpillar eating milkweed

What to do when disaster happens?
1. Take photos – this helps you keep a record for your own knowledge, gives you something to show others to obtain their opinion/thoughts, and will help you as you learn signs and symptoms of diseases and pesticides.
2. Clean up – euthanize sick and dying critters.
3. Disinfect – using a bleach solution, disinfectant wipes, and/or hospital disinfectant, wash everything that your critters touched and that you touched after handling critters. Remember cell phones, light switches, even the handle and lid of your bleach bottle. Scissors, faucet handles, and so many other things could have been touched. Pathogens can be nearly anywhere if a bad outbreak of disease happened.
4. Stop and think – can you figure out what happened? Share your story and photos of the problem on a Facebook group to obtain thoughts from others who raise caterpillars inside. Sometimes there is something we can do to prevent it from happening again. Sometimes not.
5. Remember – nature kills 98% before they become adults. If you lose a few, you’re still doing better than nature. Nature’s intent is to keep the species alive, not individual butterflies.

You CAN do it!

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Caterpillars and pet tick medication

Can pets with tick medication and caterpillars co-exist in the same home? Yes, they can. These medications are actually pesticides/insecticides. They are safe for mammals but not for insects.

Flea tick medicine kills caterpillars

Grim and his family

The different active ingredients in different brands work by various methods. What kills with green vomit is a different ingredient than the one that keeps them from pupating properly.

Click here to learn more about flea/tick medication and caterpillars.

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Why do so many butterflies die?

In nature, butterflies have so many enemies, from egg through adult. Why?

Florida predatory stink bugs and a Sleepy Orange butterfly caterpillar

Florida predatory stink bugs and a Sleepy Orange butterfly caterpillar

Math is the answer. Simple math.

Check it out here.

NPV Nuclear Polyhedrosis Virus Gulf Fritillary butterfly caterpillar

NPV Nuclear Polyhedrosis Virus
Gulf Fritillary butterfly caterpillar

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Have you frozen your milkweed leaves yet this year?

It’s the time of year when common milkweed has nice big leaves. That means it is time to cut, disinfect, and freeze milkweed leaves for emergency times. Check it out by clicking on this sentence.

Freeze milkweed leaves for emergency use

Freeze milkweed leaves
for emergency use

Those of us in the south wish we had common milkweed leaves to freeze. Have you frozen milkweed leaves? Which species of milkweed did you freeze?

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Are organic plants safe for caterpillars?

It depends. One of the most popular pesticides around is one used for the express purpose of killing caterpillars. It is 100% organic and can be used on plants that are certified organic.

Monarch caterpillar killed by an organic pesticide

Monarch caterpillar killed by
an approved organic pesticide

Read more by clicking on this sentence.

Organic pesticides are as deadly to caterpillars as non-organic pesticides.

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Why do I need to know about dogbane?

Dogbane is a plant that so strongly resembles milkweed that many people, including those experienced in the field, can be fooled it it. Monarch caterpillars will not eat it.

Dogbane is on the left Milkweed is on the right Monarch host plant

Dogbane is on the left Milkweed is on the right Monarch host plant

Dogbane is related to milkweed and the Milkweed Tussock Moth (actually a tiger moth but more often called tussock moth) will eat it.

Dogbane also has white sap that can harm eyes, making it even more difficult to tell them apart. Click on this sentence to learn how to tell them apart.

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Say WHAT?

If you’re tired of caterpillars dying from disease pathogens on the leaves they eat, it’s time to consider disinfecting their food before you feed it to them.

NPV Nuclear polyhedrosis virus Gulf Fritillary butterfly caterpillar

NPV Nuclear Polyhedrosis Virus
Dead/Melted Gulf Fritillary butterfly caterpillar

It’s easy and kills the pathogens that kill our caterpillars.

Check it out here.

Disinfect or bleach an entire plant for caterpillars

If you like to use a living plant,
you can disinfect or bleach an
entire plant for caterpillars.

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Where are the butterflies?

It’s cold out there. It’s too cold for butterflies to fly, caterpillars to crawl, chrysalises to emerge, or eggs to hatch. So where are butterflies and moths?

Simple! Many are right there in your garden, right in front of your eyes.

Tawny Emperor butterfly larvae caterpillars winter diapause

Tawny Emperor butterfly caterpillars
Spend the winter in diapause

Check it out by clicking here.

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Tagging Monarchs

It is that time of year! Many people are now tagging Monarch butterflies to help with the study on migration.

how to tag a monarch butterfly for migration studies research

Tagging a Monarch butterfly

If you would like to learn how to tag Monarch butterflies, you can learn more about it by clicking on this sentence.

how to tag a monarch butterfly for migration studies research

A tag fell off
this Monarch butterfly

There are common mistakes people make when tagging butterflies. Read some about those mistakes by clicking on this sentence.

how to tag a monarch butterfly for migration studies research

A tagged Monarch butterfly

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Small Butterflies are Delightful!

We tend to notice what is bright and colorful but many of our beautiful butterflies are tiny.

Gray Hairstreak

Gray Hairstreak

Ceraunus Blue Butterfly

Ceraunus Blue Butterfly

Phaon Crescent Butterfly

Phaon Crescent Butterfly

Great Purple Hairstreak

Great Purple Hairstreak

Pearl Crescent Butterfly

Pearl Crescent Butterfly

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