Winter Monarch butterflies

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  • #15339


    We are receiving phone calls and emails about what to do with the Monarch butterflies that emerge from their chrysalis at this time of the year. The concern is "the bad weather".

    Remember this: Indoors, we humans like to be comfortable. If it’s too hot, we turn on fans or open the doors/windows. If it’s too cold, we turn on some type of heating.

    Outdoors, Monarchs (and other wildlife) experience what comes naturally and the strongest of the species will survive. Seasonal shift means nothing to them – they just do what others have done for hundreds of years beforehand. However heavy rain, frost and snow and strong wind are factors that will make it harder for anything to survive.

    If it’s cool/dark then Monarchs won’t want to do anything but overwinter, i.e. they go into diapause and will not breed until the spring. They will only feed (nectar) when they’re warm and it’s bright. If it’s warm/bright then they will sense it’s summer and want to breed and nectar. So – so long as you don’t expose your Monarchs to "summer" temperatures/light but keep them cool and with appropriate amounts of light/dark, i.e. more dark than light, then they will be fine and won’t need any extra attention.

    When it’s suitable – even if it’s one of these changeable days when we get four seasons of weather in a day – put them outdoors and free them when it’s sunny and warm, even if it’s sunny/warm for only an hour or two, and they will fly away and find appropriate shelter for the rest of the winter.

    When finding a place to leave them, an ideal position is shelter from the wind and rain, and where any sunlight will find them, even if it’s not direct sunlight.

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  • #35786


    For Anita.



    Thanks for posting this.

    I had a monarch hatch on saturday and I kept it in overnight and put it outside on sunday because it was sunny with a light breeze. I knew that the weather was going to turn bad though, during the week so I was a bit worried about it. I felt that it would probably know what to do in bad weather like you said. It flew on that day and I hope it found some shelter from the heavy rain and winds that we have had for the last few days though.

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