Very interesting stuff at that link Jim! Well, the two butterflies have since passed (and from what I've read there, I need to test live butterflies) but I still have both bodies (one in the freezer, one not). I wonder if I could still test them...
The cats at mom's place are "wild". She doesn't do "rearing" in the strictest sense, and I hardly do so myself. I'm afraid to keep them in containers etc.
I usually grab them when they're almost ready to pupate. From what I can tell, they seem to be healthy. Now that I think of it, I've seen to pupae in her yard that have browned. We've also had three pupae (that we've seen) that developed completely and hatched.
I wonder if it is possible to cause problems for the cats if they are transferred from one kind of plant to another (ie: from giant milkweed to tropical milkweed). Could the change in diet upset their development?
Other situations: one milkweed has been ravaged by a few pests. First, aphids (ladybugs killed them). Later, red spider mites decided to show up (they're still there...ladybugs didn't touch them for whatever reason). Now, ants are also trying to move into the milkweed pot (and the other plant pots as well!). I'm putting down drops of "Ant Kil" for them to take back and feed the others in hope of ridding them. Ant activity has slowed, but does continue.
With the exception of ants, the other plants (including two other milkweed) seem to be coming along quite nicely. The tallest of plants (including the pot) is no more than 2 feet. The cage that everything is in is 8 feet tall. Is it possible it's too much room to roam up top for a butterfly initially?
Also, the patio gets direct sunlight from sunrise until around 12-1pm. I wonder if that is too much exposure. It seems that as of late (until today's rains) the average temperature has been 87 degrees.
Thanks again for the help everyone.