Getting ready for the 2009 Monarchs!

Here's a site with a great map and info for teachers. Journey north

In the summer of 2008 we raised monarch butterflies from eggs that we found on some milkweed we pulled up out of the grass in the yard.

Here is how we set up thier "home" for the first few weeks...

We put their leaves on a damp paper towel, and waited only two days for the eggs to hatch. Right before they hatch, the egg turns black - that's the head of the tiny caterpillar, about to break through.

Here you see we picked lots of leaves, since we have FOUR to raise this year.

Look to see if you can find one in this picture.

SMD with caterpillars
Here is my daughter, helping to take care of the caterpillars. She checks on them every few hours, and if one wanders off it's leaf she lets us know.

This is a really simple and fun project to do with preschoolers.

You can find lots of information on the web about the lifecycle of the monarch, and the library has books about butterflies and thier metamorphasis.

Notice how we have to keep changing the leaves. When they get old we have to put new ones in so that the caterpillar will keep eating. We like to keep a fresh supply in a vase, that makes it easy. Just make sure you aren't picking leaves with eggs when you get a fresh supply. If you do, let the egg hatch and move the leaf onto an existing plant outside. Then you can visit your pet outside!

On the paper towel you will see lots of dark spots, this is caterpillar poop, technically called frass. See the little guy on the new leaf?
Old and new leaves, with frass on the paper towel

The biggest one, about 5 days old, keeps wandering to our fresh set up. We'll let him go wherever he wants, since he won't leave his food source.

Looking for a fresh meal