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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