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Eleanor Parke's picture
Eleanor Parke

I am one of the well-meaning people who has been raising Monarchs in my home this season. The caterpillars were taken from my swamp milkweed plants and raised in containers/cages in a screened porch. The butterfies (and only one caterpillar succumbed) were all released as soon as their wings were strong enough.

I find a lot of the discussion about captive rearing to be deeply disturbing and not helpful to those of us who are merely 'citizen scientists'. Worse still, I was distressed to learn that, without a permit in the province which I call home, I am breaking the law.

The Monarch experts need to do a far better job of educating people, including our elected representatives, about what the Monarchs need to survive and thrive.

Yes, the first aim should be habitat preservation/establishment.
But, where I live, common milkweed is still on the list of noxious plants so growing it is subject to penalities too. And some research suggests it is still the best plant for Monarchs.

A coherent educational effort needs to be launched as well. From my own research, I have learned that the maximum number of Monarchs one should raise is ten per season. This is perfectly reasonable when the amount of milkweed needed for one caterpillar is considered.

Institutions that raise Monarchs as part of a public education program need to provide clear information about this and many other things including the need for sterile conditions, permits, part of their program. Not to do so is irresponsible.

The Monarch needs all the help it can get.