How to Over-winter monarchs

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How to Over-winter monarchs

Postby atworner » Mon Dec 30, 2013 6:26 pm

I live in Central Texas. My neighbor just brought me a milkweed plant that she has been keeping in her garage, and she has found 5 monarch cats on it, all in various stages of development.

We are having a seasonally cold winter here this year. I don't know if the cats will make it to chrysallis stage, or even if they will eclose, but I am wondering how I can over-winter them if I do get some healthy butterfly individuals. Can I put them in a container with branches and set it in the refrigerator? Could anyone tell me what might work?

The fact that there are even cats munching on plants this late in the season is highly unusual!

Thanks for any help.
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Re: How to Over-winter monarchs

Postby atworner » Thu Jan 09, 2014 1:12 pm

194 views to date, and not one single reply - pretty disappointing.
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Re: How to Over-winter monarchs

Postby sbannister » Fri Jan 10, 2014 10:55 pm

Well, here's a reply. I am in S. Louisiana and we have overwintering cats most years but we are having some sub freezing temps this year. The few winters before this one have been mild and I participated in a study re OE in overwintering Monarchs - all of those adults I caught tested positive for OE. Anyway I have brought in some potted milkweed to save and there are a few cats on it. I am going to return the pots outside tomorrow because the temps will be warm enough for the plants. I don't know how to keep the cats inside over the winter. I have tried and had one eclose and while waiting for a warmer day to release it, it damaged its wings. It just hasn't worked for me so I am kind of resigned to let them fend for themselves.

I wanted to respond although I can;t really answer your question. I just want to add that I miss many of the regulars from the old forums and even though this is the "off season" it's strange to not hear from anyone!!! Where is everyone?
Susan
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Re: How to Over-winter monarchs

Postby DonnaZ2011 » Sun Jan 12, 2014 9:19 am

I live about 25 miles north of Houston. I also have over wintering Monarchs. I have been bringing the caterpillars into my house to raise. I have had 9 eclose this past week when the temps have been very cold. I have a large homemade cage that I have been keeping them in. I make a nectar solution of 20% honey and 80% water. I place a clean pot scrubber in a shallow dish with the nectar. This is what I feed the butterflies until the weather warms enough to release them. I have had fairly good success with this method. Two of the 9 died before it was warm enough to release them yesterday. I have 10 more chrysalides and five cats still in the house, but all of my milkweed froze last Tuesday, so I'm not sure what I will do about the cats. I'm not sure if this helps you as I am fairly new to raising Monarchs and have only been doing it for about 2 years. I am currently participating in the OE study of over wintering Monarchs.
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Re: How to Over-winter monarchs

Postby atworner » Sat Jan 18, 2014 5:16 pm

sbannister wrote:Well, here's a reply. I am in S. Louisiana and we have overwintering cats most years but we are having some sub freezing temps this year. The few winters before this one have been mild and I participated in a study re OE in overwintering Monarchs - all of those adults I caught tested positive for OE. Anyway I have brought in some potted milkweed to save and there are a few cats on it. I am going to return the pots outside tomorrow because the temps will be warm enough for the plants. I don't know how to keep the cats inside over the winter. I have tried and had one eclose and while waiting for a warmer day to release it, it damaged its wings. It just hasn't worked for me so I am kind of resigned to let them fend for themselves.

I wanted to respond although I can;t really answer your question. I just want to add that I miss many of the regulars from the old forums and even though this is the "off season" it's strange to not hear from anyone!!! Where is everyone?
Susan



Thanks for your reply Susan. I've had two of mine eclose today and they both appear perky and healthy. I have hand-fed them with a 4:1 solution of sugar water, which they drank greedily. I have talked with my local organic nurseryman and he said I could bring them over and put them in the hot house where there are flowers blooming. There just is nothing blooming anywhere in my garden right now, so at least this way, they have a chance for some time in the "wild"

Anne
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Re: How to Over-winter monarchs

Postby atworner » Sat Jan 18, 2014 5:20 pm

DonnaZ2011 wrote:I live about 25 miles north of Houston. I also have over wintering Monarchs. I have been bringing the caterpillars into my house to raise. I have had 9 eclose this past week when the temps have been very cold. I have a large homemade cage that I have been keeping them in. I make a nectar solution of 20% honey and 80% water. I place a clean pot scrubber in a shallow dish with the nectar. This is what I feed the butterflies until the weather warms enough to release them. I have had fairly good success with this method. Two of the 9 died before it was warm enough to release them yesterday. I have 10 more chrysalides and five cats still in the house, but all of my milkweed froze last Tuesday, so I'm not sure what I will do about the cats. I'm not sure if this helps you as I am fairly new to raising Monarchs and have only been doing it for about 2 years. I am currently participating in the OE study of over wintering Monarchs.


Hi Donna,

Thanks for your answer. I didn't know you could feed honey and water - I've always used sugar water, but I might mix up some honey solution and see if they prefer that over sugar water. I've been handfeeding two that eclosed this morning, and there are 3 more that might be healthy also. I'm not involved in an study of OE currently. I basically look at them under a magnifying glass to see if their bodies look normal. Anyway, as I mentioned above, they will be going to an organic nursery where they can stay in the hothouse till it warms up outside. I probably should have left them outside and let nature take its course. It was just way too late in the year for this to be practical.

Anne
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Re: How to Over-winter monarchs

Postby sbannister » Mon Jan 20, 2014 4:54 pm

I think you both are doing a great job! :D
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