Releasing Monarchs 101
So you've raised your caterpillars to total metamorphosis, now what?
1. Allow the newly emerged adult 3-4 hours to inflate and dry their wings. Do not touch them when their wings are still wet or it may damage them.
2. When the butterflies first emerge, they are quite lethargic and slow-moving for the first few hours. They may just walk onto your finger if you gently nudge their legs. Then, you can carry them outside and place them on a plant.
3. If your butterfly has had more than a few hours and is feeling a bit more active, you will have to hold them differently in order to minimize damage to their wings/scales.
4. Starting with your pointer and middle finger in a scissor-like position, gently hold all four wings as close to their body as possible. This way they will not be able to flap their wings and damage them. Then, carry them outside.
NOTE: Sometimes the weather does not allow you to release your Monarch right away. If is below freezing, raining, hailing, snowing or there are strong gusts of wind, it is best to keep your Monarchs safe inside until this passes. You can feed them fresh cut fruits and/or honey water while they are waiting out the storm.
4/26/2019 07:44:14 am
Thanks for the info....can't wait for new season...
Margaret M O'Connor
12/11/2019 11:29:12 pm
Since I have many lizards and cardinals here, I prefer to wait until a butterfly is actively moving. Usually they go to the sunniest spot on my sliding glass door and search for a way out. I shew the butterfly/butterflies away from the opening door, and, watching them carefully, open the door and the screen. Usually the butterflies fly out once the door is opened. If not, I carry each individually on my index finger and place it on a tabletop with outside-growing milkweed. Usually the butterfly flies off my finger before I get to the milkweed.Their first flight into the wild is always very gratifying to me.
8/31/2020 08:55:21 am
What do you consider as strong gusts of wind?
9/1/2020 06:28:08 am
Anything sustaining at 20 mph or higher. Thanks for your question!
3/25/2021 03:31:18 am
I’ve read so far quite the contrary. Do not feed them honey. A butterfly nectar solution (more dilute than a hummingbird) id simple to make: sugar and water.
9/22/2021 05:18:10 am
I have a couple of monarchs which will hatch today or tomorrow. we have heavy rain predicted for the next 2 days. What is the best way to contain them and hold for better weather?
9/10/2022 06:21:02 pm
Or, you know, you could just carry the mesh enclosure outside, set it in the sun, and open it. They usually fly right out. I've been reading about dilute sugar water and/or fruit juices to hold them over for a few days while it's raining. I'm about to try that as it is about to rain and I've got half a dozen ready to pop tomorrow!
10/23/2022 07:47:25 am
We have a few monarchs that are ready to be released. We also have a road trip today where we are headed 1 hour South in the car. Should we release them when we arrive at our destination? The thought was they are headed south and this would put them much farther ahead on their journey
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