As a rule of thumb, what is the method to use for fertilizing, like MiracleGro, Peter's etc? I have a friend & neighbor that is raising Monarchs for her second year. She is having catastrophic results; all of her cats grow, look healthy, have been brought in either as very early 1st instar or as soon as she finds them in the wild. She has kept them with only 4-5 per container & the instars as close together in groups as possible. Her cages are kept clean, & so far as I have seen, her methods are fine. Her cats seems healthy until the j-hook; then it looks like the 'insides' sink down, leaving a empty, sagging whithered skin, that is followed by the entire skin turning 'blackish, loosing its green color. The cats look horrid, I have never seen anything quite like it. The cat will either simply hang limp, dead, or go on to look like, (before the black look taking place), to start to split the skin behind the head, at which point the process stops. The green that 'would be the chrysalis', bulges & is a soft green blob, leaking what look like clear colored drops, that turns into a black spot on the paper towel below. (There are no signs of larvae or anything that appears to be inside, as some of the posts have mentioned. I have helped her search through the posts & haven't seen anything quite like this.)She has kept everything as close to the way we have both seen described on the forums. She used plastic shoe boxes this year, (thoroughly sanitizing each time she cleans & replenishes her food) switching from deli containers used last year. Anybody have any ideas on what the problem is? I speculated on the type of fertilizer, but withheld any opinions. I remember reading a post when I first started reading the posts that someone didn't purchase their mweed because 'some particular fertilizer may have been used', but don't remember the name of that brand. She is on city water, as I am, & we both are in a quandry as to what has happened. Any help or suggestions would be appreciated. All of the cats have died the same way, so it seems there is something really wrong going on.
Thanks & God Bless tar