This information has been take from discussion groups of which I was a member. Nothing has been taken from books.
Iam going to experiment with some of these ideas for holding adults. I’ll try some in the wine cooler we use for pupae. ~E
We store our live butterflies in a commercial refrigerator (for soft drinks) that doesn’t dehydrates
The moisture level is excellent and its big enough for hundreds of adult butterflies
We store them in the small size Insect lore porta bugs since they don’t take much space and we can stock 50 adults per containers
It’s quick to fill or empty and handles very easily, plus it can be washed & sterilised very efficiently.
We can also spray a little water on the porta bugs in the fridge to keep the adults refreshed, and we keep the temperature around 6 degrees celcius.
You put the thermometer in the fridge and alter the thermostat so the temps are between 45F and 50f. This usually means turning the fridge down (making it warmer) than for usual kitchen use. Remember the fridge is colder on the bottom shelves than at the top shelves (Heat rises). The Styrofoam container will adjust down to the required temperature....but so you can continue to use your fridge it maintains it's internal temp...opening the door raises the temps...the Styrofoam maintains an even temp inside. Do not spray or put any water in the Styrofoam box...but do make sure it has a reasonable seal and the lid fits well...fridges desiccate...this is why things always tend to dry out inside them. Good luck!
I remove my monarch eggs 24 hours after they are laid. I peel them right off the plant. Then I put in an airtight container in the regular fridge for up to about 9 days or less.
You can keep Monarchs in the fridge with no problems...just like any butterfly they must not be wet! Use a Styrofoam box and get a fridge thermometer. The box does not need to be big as they soon settle down...in fact if you see pics of them overewintering...you can say it's impossible to overcrowd them! Monarchs don't like it at normal fridge temps of 4C to 5C...they become lethargic and often never recover...they need to be at between 7C and 10C...I use 7C. When they hatch let them fly and feed for a day and put them in at night on day1. They will happily sit in the fridge for 7 days..bring them out the day before you send them and let them feed.
Incidentally I keep some breeders in the fridge all winter...I keep around
12 of them and bring them out every week for a feed...You must let them have a few hours to digest their food before you put them back in again...I get one or two losses over the whole winter but it guarantees an early start in the spring for me.
If you need to have the butterflies emerge from their chrysalides at a
certain time, you can have some control over the timing of their emergence.
If you have a program in which to show them, or you want to show the actual
emergence you can plan ahead of time for the emergence of the butterflies.
To control emergence, put pupae (chrysalides) in the refrigerator as soon as
the butterfly's wing pattern is evident through the pupal cuticle- i.e..
just as soon as you can see a pattern on the wings. At room temperature,
pupae emerge in 12-15 hours. -usually in a.m. after this patterns is
evident. By refrigerating these types of pupae (that is, ones that are close
to emergence) until 2 hrs. before the time you need them, they just might
emerge at the right time.
The easiest and best way to produce art nectar for your butterflies is...boil up 2lbs of fructose sugar in 2pints of water, add one teaspoon of Soy sauce. When cooled bottle it. This keeps for ever...all you need to do is dilute before you use it...this amount it makes a huge amount of nectar! As for diluting the mix, try around 7% to 10% (Remember it already is diluted in the original water) But a good rule of thumb you can use is taste it...it should taste slightly sweet..a bit like sugared coffee...but not sickly...follow this and you won't go far wrong. The Soy is very good for Monarchs etc as it provides minerals and salts...but essential for Swallowtail breeders if you want to get the best results. Male Swallowatils need to ingest salts to develop a ripe spermatiphore...that's why (males only!) are seen sucking at damp mud.
Overwintering Monarchs in the Fridge
OK...here goes...there is more to overwintering Monarchs in the fridge. = . . . Firstly regardless of the fridge type...frost free or not...the = fridge desiccates. The whole process of refrigeration works by = evaporation and all moisture will be collected and automatically removed = from your fridge, this will kill your stock.
Wait until the autumn...and use the last Monarchs you breed to = overwinter them. These will have experienced falling daylight levels and = be more suitable to overwinter than those taken earlier in the season = (The earlier season Monarchs will expect to pair and lay more eggs!) The = key point is to get a completely sealed airtight plastic = container...line it with a little netting for a good grip. Do not add = any moisture...this will cause a mould and kill the butterflies. Then = get an inch thick Styrofoam box for the airtight box to fit into....this = will insulate the plastic box inside and will not subject the Monarchs = to temperature fluctuations every time you open the fridge door. The aim = is to mirror the overwintering stock in their natural conditions...but = do not worry about daylight at this stage...it is not important during = complete diapause.
Now you generally will lose a few...but very few if you keep the = conditions right. It does take a bit of work/time to do it right but it = is always worth it to start early. Attached is a photo of a feeding rig = you should use...it is a simple construction made from clothes pins in = seconds. You should use this to hand feed the Monarchs...to start with = you may need to carefully unroll the tongue with a quality paintbrush (I = use a Red Sable hair brush size 2..they are not cheap...but they are = very springy and retain this feature for ever!) After a few feeds they = actually learn and expect what is coming...they even start to unroll = their tongues as soon as you put them on the clothes pin. Let them = feed...and when they withdraw their tongue.... unroll it again to see if = they'll take more...they often do!=20
Now it is important that they digest their food...so if you put them = straight back into the fridge they will be unable to do so...keep them = on the peg (This keeps their wings in good condition)...to start with on = the peg...they will struggle with their legs but soon settle down. Then = leave them for at least 4 hours to digest the food. I use a fructose mix = at around 10% at this stage...always add a drop of Soy sauce. Place them = in the airtight box put them in the fridge inside the Styrofoam box...to = get more Monarchs into a small box....you can do this in stages...so put = as many as you can in the box until they start to become a problem...put = the box in the fridge and wait until it cools...you can then bring the = box out and add more. They don't mind being very crowded so the box does = not have to be very large at all....think how crowded they are in their = natural overwintering sites!
This way you can leave them for around 10 days and start again...after = about a month...leave them out for a little longer and double feed = them...so feed them as usual...leave them for 4 hours or so...feed them = again and leave them for a further 4 hours and put them back in the = fridge. Keep this up all winter and they'll come through with very few = losses. Keep an eye on the bodies and any that look a little thin at any = time you feed them in the winter...double feed them ...If you start with = around 20...you should get around 16 through...I have managed to get = them all through with this method.
In the spring they may take a week or two to pair and start = laying...this is because they are expecting to migrate and there is a = delay mechanism built in to allow them to do this and disperse before = laying eggs. Good luck and I hope this helps.
To do this....after emergence...I give them a day of flight with plenty of nectar plants (combined with plenty of water misting) at the end of the day when quiet, I then post them through a wedge shaped slot cut into a fairly large stryrofoam box..I put back the wedge (The post box hole!) By the way I seal the box lid opening with paper tape first. It doesn't matter if you have them emerging over several days..the process is the same...just add them to the box and follow the routine. I keep a separate fridge for this which holds the temperature at 42f to 45f. (Don't be tempted to go any lower than this!) Every week or so I give them a days flight and feeding, then again at the end of the day when they are quiet again I just post them back into the box and then back into the fridge...you can keep them for ages like this. They will have minimal damage as they are in fact the same as they were when they emerged. They just go into a suspended animation while cool.
I like to line the inside of the box with netting to give a good grip while they are cool
All this really does is mimic their overwintering habits where they spend several months roosting together in thoudands...so don't be too concerned about packing a lot of them in close together!