There were a couple of posts to the Monarch Watch Dplex list serve about keeping milkweed in the frig for 10 days. If you put some leaves in the frig, you'd have enough for them to finish their cycle. I've mailed or taken butterflies further south in Virginia when it started getting too cold for them to travel on their own.
"Cut you a stem of milkweed about the length of a paper towel ... keep the milkweed damp, leave the
leaves on the stems as they will stay fresh longer ... roll out about eight to ten of your paper towels
(you got VIVA didn't you?) on a flat surface ... you'll learn how many as you do it ... place the
stems of leaves side by side on the paper towels ... roll the paper towels up pretty tightly to fit in
the ziplock ... I'd even sprinkle this cylinder you've got with a bit of water to moisten ... then place the
rolled up leaves into the ziplock bag ... and place on a bottom shelf of the fridge ... take out a stems
of leaves as you need them ... they stayed fresh for us for at least ten days ... but we kept what we cut in cool water and got quickly into the fridge ... we worked with curassavica, asperula, and viridis ... you might be able to get a couple or three cylingers in the ziplock ... don't make the cylinder too big that it is hard to handle stuffing it into the ziplock ... if you go out and gather milkweed, take a cheap foam cooler with some ice in it to hold your harvested milkweed and it will stay fresher for you ... keep this 99cent cooler as a dedicated cooler for that purpose as you may not want to use it for anything else ... be sure and take a jug of water along and wash your hands when you are out there, not a good time to rub your eyes! If you don't want to put milkweed in your fridge, a small bag of ice in the cooler will keep your milkweed good for almost three days but four might be pushing it.
"Ba Rea writes:
Back when I was keeping monarchs in a tent and dealing with 1000s of caterpillars, and keeping them in separate containers, I used to process Common Milkweed (A. syriaca) leaves to have a steady supply of ready food:
Take the leaves off of the stems, rinse them to remove any other bugs etc, set them in a drainer to dry a little and then dry them off completely with bounty paper towels. Don't tear the paper towels into sections leave them as a long strip. Fold the leaves into the damp paper towels so that there is a layer of damp paper towel between each leaf. The fold was a "Z" fold with a leaf inside each fold. It is easy once you get started. leaf, fold, leaf, fold etc. Processed that way, put into zip lock baggies (choose the size that fits the size leaves you are dealing with) and refrigerated, I could keep milkweed fresh to feed my caterpillars for up to 2 weeks. It is important not to have the leaves touching each other or the plastic and that there is no standing water anywhere. The very thin leaves of common milkweed plants that grow in shade won't hold up as long as the tougher leaves of plants growing in full sun. I doubt that it would work with tropical milkweed leaves or even swamp milkweed-those leaves are too thin and soft...but probably would work with A. speciosa, A. exaltata, A. viridis, A. sullivantii, and A. amplexicaulis. Ba Rea, Knobs, WV"
Herndon, VA (USA)
Take care of the small things....