I have been raising and releasing Monarchs for the last 7 years. I am Monarch Watch Waystation no. 381. I started out very slow but each year it has increased due to planting more Butterfly Weed plants. In the year 2000 I started going to the schools giving live Monarch Presentations. I show each stage of the live Monarch life cycle from the plant with eggs on it, all sizes of caterpellars, green chrysalises, dark chrysalises about to hatch. Then sometime during the presentation I have several Monarchs emerging out of their chrysalis. Everyone is amazed. I usually do 2 presentations, one after the other, each time I go to a school. This has grown from going to 4 schools the first time to 15 each year doing about 60 presentations in 5 weeks. It has expanded to giving presentations at Libraires, Rotary, Lyons and Kiwanis clubs and a Nursery.
As far as I know, I am the only one doing this in the Nashville area. I would like to hear if there are others.
Last spring on April 10, 2006 (which is early for our area) a female came into my yard and in 3 days had laid over 600 eggs. I had about 30 Tuberosa Butterfly Weed Plants starting to come up. They were from 3-4" high to 6-7" high and a few about 12" tall. That Monarch filled up every available space on the leaves laying 7-10 eggs on a leaf, and 2-4 eggs on little stubs just peeping up out of the ground. I know they usually just lay one to a leaf but this Monarch was desperate as there was nothing up anywhere else. I had to leave them on there to hatch and grow till I could find some Butterfly Weed growing elsewhere to get to put the catterpillars on it inside my workroom. Two weeks later when I collected them to grow in the Totes I counted over 700 that I was taking care of all at the same time. I had never had this many all at one time before and all at about the same stage. It was a lot of work for an 80 yr. old. My husband is 86 and helps me collect the Butterfly Weed to feed the Caterpillars and the rest is up to me. It's also quite a chore to get everything ready that we take to do the presentations. But it's all worth it to see the awe, the joy, the wonder in the childrens and teachers faces while I'm showing them all this. They are amazed to see the Monarchs emerging from the chrysalises. I released over 700 hundred by the middle of June.
On the southern migration the Monarchs appeared about the first week of July and I raised 350, tagged and released them. When I do my presentations in the fall I have children and adults help tag and release them when I give the presentations at my home. They get such a thrill out of this.
Last year I raised, tagged and released 550 during the fall migration.
That's all for now. If anyone wishes to comment on any of this E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org