Monarch Musings, Part 2

Okay, if we’ve gotten through the tropical versus native asclepias issue without killing one another, here’s another issue that seems to be dividing folks: the home rearing or raising indoors or monarch chrysalises for later outdoor release.

At first glance, you think, how could anything about this be controversial? And indeed, one of Connecticut’s oldest and most respected organic nurseries not only does this but encourages others to do this.

But very recently–in the last week or so–it has come to light that monarchs that are hand-raised or home raised have difficulty migrating. There was a long article in the Atlantic that discussed various problems with the home raised butterfiles.

Here’s an article from late last year that both thoughtfully summarized the debate, the issues (including the tropical versus native milkweed issue from last Friday’s post) and even has some comments attached that shows how heated the discussion can get.

I don’t raise monarchs indoors. I have had them in my outdoor garden where I grow my native milkweed, asclepias incarnata (which goes by the lovely common name swamp milkweed. Is it a wonder more folks don’t grow this stuff?) I’ve watched the caterpillars crawl around on it–I even did a post last summer on it where I compared watching them to a form of “garden bathing” (like “forest bathing.”)

But I do have friends who raise monarchs. They love the hobby–and yes, they have lost some to disease. It’s been heartbreaking for them. Amazing how fast you get attached to little crawling caterpillars, I guess, particularly ones that you have watched hatch.

What’s the takeaway? I am not sure. I wish I thought we were helping nature. Perhaps someday we’ll learn how to get better at it. Until then, does that mean we shouldn’t try?

2 thoughts on “Monarch Musings, Part 2

  1. tonytomeo July 12, 2019 / 12:13 am

    The swarms of monarch butterflies on the blue gum and red gum eucalypti of Monarch Grove down south demonstrate that raising a few indoors does nothing to help their proliferation. It is literally only a few out of millions. However, I do believe that it is a healthy activity for young schoolchildren who are learning about nature and ecology.

  2. gardendaze July 12, 2019 / 5:54 am

    I don’t necessarily disagree with that. It may help spark a love for nature and the outdoors and there’s nothing bad about that.

    I think the thing that the butterfly groups are getting all worked up about are adults doing this as a hobby. Folks in warmer climates have more opportunities than we do here in the frozen north but I still know people who do it. Whatever, as you say.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.