I live in Wisconsin and have been rearing monarchs for the last few years. My sons and I have successfully raised and released hundreds from the eggs laid on milkweed we planted in our backyard. We have been supplying our local elementary schools with caterpillars for the last couple of years. This year we had a huge amount of interest, we supplied the school with over 125 eggs, caterpillars and pupa and there still wasn't enough to go around to all interested teachers. (By the way, we do this for free - we are just doing it to share this great experience.)
My problem is that since our school starts late (after Sept. 1) eggs and cats are getting pretty darn scarce. I'm trying to figure out how to mess with Mother Nature just a little bit and extend our season a week or two so the students can observe the entire life cycle. Eggs seem to be pretty common until the middle of August, then numbers drop abruptly. I thought I could keep a couple of males and females in a large rearing cage and let nature take it's course, but no go. I suspect that since these were butterflies that hatched in mid august they never reached sexual maturity.
Does anyone have any suggestions? What if I take some butterflies that hatch in late july, then keep them in a cool dark room for a week or two? Does that work? I basically have to figure out a way to keep breeders alive and in captivity for a while. I would love to hear any ideas or suggestions.