Overwintering monarch inside

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    Topic
  • #48372

    Bron and Camryn
    Participant

    Hi,

    My very last Monarch for the season emerged a couple of days ago. There was some nasty weather (strong winds, hail, heavy rain) while he was hanging around in his chrysalis so I decided he can overwinter inside if he seems happy with that.

    Does anyone else let their butterflies overwinter inside? If so how do you do this?

Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 15 total)
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  • #59430

    bchanfcb1987
    Participant

    Hello, thank you for this post. I totally agree with you. I just joined and loving this forum. Good to meet you all here.

    #59421

    mok.monster
    Participant

    thanks so much for your advice, Leslie. My monarch has only had the one drink, but otherwise it climbed up the net curtain in my spare room, and there it stays. Today is sunny and I will see if I can coax it to drink, if its still alive.

    #59399

    LeslieD
    Participant

    they don’t need to drink for a couple of days after hatching so don’t worry about that. If I have to keep mine due to dire weather I’ll offer them nectar after a couple of days and if they are hungry they will drink it if not I leave it till next day. I make a nectar from the packet stuff for tuis or just honey and water or even sugar and water. I find they also love watermelon or rockmelon if you can find it.

    #59397

    mok.monster
    Participant

    Hi, I’m new to this forum because I have just hatched a monarch inside (June 2020) and wondering how I can make sure it lives. already I have found valuable information on this forum. and then, just now, 36 hours after hatching, my monarch finally had a small drink from honeyed water soaked in sphagnum, just as i was about to unfurl its proboscis with a needle (was a bit apprehensive though in case i hurt monarch). It wont touch feijoa or tomato juice, and doesn’t like borage flowers

    #49114

    Flutterby48
    Participant

    Gosh what a great post!We do get attached to the butterflies that we hang onto don’t we, and I swear that we can almost see their little characters 😄 Anyway that’s enough of me being soppy!
    I kept an injured butterfly must be a couple of years ago now’Tatty’lived with me for 6 weeks before dying, leaving eggs and her legacy x
    I do agree that an overwintering butterfly needs to be living as close to natural conditions as it can. I think he liked your warm hands Bron and was maybe stimulated by something on your skin as Butterflies taste with their feet. What happened to mini?

    #48716

    Bron and Camryn
    Participant

    Wish I could film his antics more often but I usually I don’t have any free hands. Sometimes they are funny. In the weekend he fell off my hand and his feet touched the floor. For some weird reason he hates the floor and will do anything to avoid it. The tap dancing leggy frog dance that ensued was hilarious.

    That said, I did get a couple of vids this morning of him asking for food…

    https://www.facebook.com/BronwynPatterson27/posts/533760656810476

    #48715

    Caryl
    Participant

    Remarkable, Bron as are your observations and compassion. Your experience with Mini deserves more publicity than this! Caryl

    #48714

    Bron and Camryn
    Participant

    Wow, this guy is seriously tame! Yesterday he smacked himself in the face and bent one of the palps on his head. It was annoying him today so I just had a go at fixing it. He sat patiently on my finger while I messed around with a toothpick putting it back in the right place. What the…….

    #48643

    Caryl
    Participant

    So fascinating Bron. Maybe butterflies have an imprinting stage as do many animals? Viewed your videos. I admire your care of Mini. Perhaps soon his scent glands will begin working and he may seek females. Keep us informed PLEASE. I saw my only ever winter over female last week. She had awakened to feed. Caryl

    #48602

    Bron and Camryn
    Participant

    Hi Caryl,

    Here’s an update on my overwintering butterfly, Mini. I still have him safe and sound. He is now 43 days old and still looking pretty young and healthy. I am so pleased I have him indoors as I don’t think he would have made it outside.

    To answer your question about food, I am feeding him 1 teaspoon of honey and one drop of soy sauce to half a cup of still mineral water. I am using Clover honey as that is nice and sweet and floral and lacks that full bodied flavour of other honeys. He loves it.

    He is really funny with his food though. As per my previous post, he STILL does not feed himself. He will only eat if he can sit on my hand. I’ve tried getting him to sit on the floor or on a flower but he won’t eat anywhere else. I recently gave him a potted Primrose to encourage him to look for his own food but he hated it so I have removed it. So instead I have to check if he is hungry and pick him up. As soon as put my hand near him he hops on and starts licking my fingers if he is hungry. It’s super cute and I guess shows that butterflies are capable of doing things other than by instinct. I was going to release him in the summer but I am not sure how he would get on with finding his own food. He would probably fly around looking for hands! He’s not really all that independent.

    Anyway, I videoed him to show what I mean. Would love to hear if anyone else has had a butterfly with the same behaviour.

    This is Mini licking my hand:
    https://www.facebook.com/BronwynPatterson27/videos/529749163878292/

    And this is how he sits on me to eat. He won’t eat anywhere else:
    https://www.facebook.com/BronwynPatterson27/videos/529752330544642/

    Also, this is not new for him. As a caterpillar he had a habit of crawling on my hand and taking a nap when I cleaned his enclosure. Think he probably liked the warmth because it was getting cold at the time.
    https://www.facebook.com/BronwynPatterson27/posts/505308546322354

    #48421

    Caryl
    Participant

    Hi, What an interesting post.What are you feeding him? His scent glands would not have picked up the female decoy. I am in Wellington and had a female eclose yesterday and put her out in the sun and another male today. We have heavy rain forecast for later today so I shall keep him inside. Keep us posted please. Caryl

    #48419

    Bron and Camryn
    Participant

    Oh, just another note; I put a decoy female monarch in his enclosure to see what he would do. Not interested at all so this makes me think he isn’t ready for breeding.

    #48418

    Bron and Camryn
    Participant

    Thanks guys for your replies. After I wrote that post I had to rush off to Rotorua so took the butterfly to my parent’s place so my Mum could look after him. I just got him back. So he has been living inside for a while. He does appear to know it is winter though because he spends most of the time hanging upside down doing nothing and only wakes up briefly for food if it is sunny. My parents reported the same behaviour.

    Also, interestingly, he might be a wild creature but I don’t think he knows this! He’s a quick learner and seems to be quite happy taking advantage of his human slaves! For example, he never feeds himself. While I was away I told my mum to feed him by hand if he looked hungry and didn’t find the food containers on his own so she did. Now instead of getting his own food he just waits for someone to check on him and then unrolls his proboscis to show he’s hungry and will only drink from a hand. This morning I decided to show him where the food is instead. As soon as he jumped on my hand he started “licking” my fingers looking for food that wasn’t there. Have to say I am gobsmacked. I think this proves that insects are capable of learning by association just like we do. I never expected that sort of intelligence from a butterfly.

    So, while its probably not ideal to have him indoors on the plus side it’s a great opportunity to learn something about insect psychology (which I am interested in anyway). I think this is probably only possible by observing them up close.

    #48380

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    Hi Brony and Camryn

    I agree with Caryl. It is not advised to keep the butterfly inside. It is a wild creature, and for thousands (millions?) of years the creatures have been surviving quite well through all sorts of weather. The conditions indoors which we enjoy are too warm for a butterfly so it would want to nectar and breed… and of course you don’t have a summer garden indoors.

    Let it go – leave it outdoors in the most sunny, sheltered position you can – even if the weather is blowing a gale or raining. That way it will adjust to the wintry conditions and do what is automatic.

    #48379

    Caryl
    Participant

    Hello, Thanks for all your interesting posts.
    I don’t think it would work keeping the butterfly inside as in the sunny weather during diapause the butterflies awaken and seek nectar.The late season butterflies instinctively know how to winter-over and find those sites (maybe by smell from previous generations?). I have visited a local winter-over site and it is fascinating. In that one butterflies have visited the site for more than 40 years! Incredible!I hope others reply!
    Caryl (Wellington).

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