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Raising Monarchs Part 1

A few weeks ago a family friend posted photos on his Facebook page of the Monarch caterpillar his family was raising. I thought it was fascinating to see the changes and thought my girls would love to raise a Monarch too. I called my friend and asked him where he got his Monarch kit. Turns out, they didn’t buy a kit. They found the egg themselves!

Milkweed in Bloom
Photo above By Killerlimpet via Wikimedia Commons because I keep forgetting to take a photo of my own.
Monarchs lay their eggs on Milkweed plants so if you have Milkweed near you, you can most likely find Monarch eggs. The girls and I set off to explore the walking trail by our house where I knew Milkweed grew. Monarchs in the wild tend to lay one egg per leaf and you can find the eggs on the underside of the leaf. Because the eggs only take 3-4 days to hatch (and make tasty treats for other bugs) they can be a bit difficult to find. After some searching, we found two eggs.

raising monarchs

We cut the leaves off the plant, brought them inside and waited. Days 1-3 were a bit boring as the egg just sat there. On day three you can see it change color slightly.

raising monarch

Day 4 is where the fun started. See how the egg now has a black spot on top? That’s the caterpillar’s head and that means the egg will hatch soon! Gently trim the leaf around the egg leaving only a small bit of the old leaf. Place the old leaf with the egg on a new leaf and wait. The newly hatched caterpillar will need fresh food when it hatches!

raising monarchs 1st instar

Later that day!…I went to check on the egg and noticed it was gone. I almost didn’t notice this little guy as he honestly looked like a little piece of poop on the egg. Once hatched, the baby caterpillar will eat its egg then move off the old leaf in search of the fresh food you have placed under it.

raising monarchs

I got out the macro lens on my camera and took close-ups of the egg and the newly hatched caterpillar. Cool huh?

raising monarchs

Yesterday afternoon completed day 5 and you can already see how fast these guys grow in 24 hours! Now begins the constant eating and pooping stage. Each morning we will gently trim the old leaf and place it on a fresh one just like we did with the egg. Fresh Milkweed is very important as baby caterpillars are very hungry and can get sick from their own poop that is on the old leaves.

Nutty and Tottie are having so much fun raising these Monarchs and it’s only been 5 days! You can continue to follow our journey on Instagram and Facebook as we will be posting daily photos. There’s still time for you to raise your own Monarchs if you live near Milkweed too!

Now you can read Part 2, the caterpillar, and Part 3, the chrysalis and butterfly!


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