July 23rd – first Monarch caterpillar of the year! It is always exciting to find one of these elusive beauties, but the first one is something special .
I handed this treasure over to my 9 year old next door neighbor. I provided her with a mesh enclosure and lots of direction. She participated in most of our butterfly release parties. She has been eagerly anticipating this year’s Monarchs.
These butterflies are now classified as endangered. Now, more than ever, it is important to protect our Monarchs and foster a sense of stewardship in the younger generation.
On Saturday, July 30th, I found a second caterpillar. I set this one up in our living room in a mesh enclosure. It looked big and healthy.
Today, the caterpillar transformation into a chrysalis!
And, the other day, when I was collecting fresh milkweed for my caterpillar, I found a tiny hatchling!
I should point out that most reputable wildlife groups like Xerces Society and the NWF caution against the act of raising Monarchs in captivity. They point out that captive rearing has little to no positive impact on increasing Monarch populations. In fact, captive conditions can lead to the spread of disease.
I raise Monarchs to raise awareness. Education inspires change. Terms like “habitat loss” and “population decline” seem more meaningful when attached to images and stories.
I keep my numbers small and manageable. Although I am not adding to Monarch populations in a direct manner, by documenting these beautiful creatures, I hope to encourage others to recognize the importance of halting habitat loss, promoting native species, and eliminating harmful insecticides.