I’ve been posting pictures of my baby monarch caterpillars for the last few weeks and have gotten tons of questions about how to raise monarch caterpillars inside the house – so of course I had to write a post about it! I assure you, it is super easy. Trust me, I was nervous to give it a try too, but my friend Julie showed me just how easy it is to find monarch eggs and raise the caterpillars. So I decided to give it a try, and oh what a fun new hobby!
When I was visiting my friend Julie a few weeks ago, I noticed she was raising monarch caterpillars on her dining room table. I was totally fascinated by them. I’ve never tried raising them before (and honestly never really thought that seriously about trying it either), so I had tons of questions. Of course by the end of the day, I left Julie’s house with one brand new baby caterpillar, and one egg of my own (that Julie helped me find).
As soon as I got home from Julie’s house with my new babies, I immediately ordered the same cage that she used to raise her caterpillars. (It’s actually a clothes hamper, haha! Here’s the one we both have) It’s perfect because the mesh is so fine, even the baby caterpillars couldn’t fit through and escape. It has a zipper on top which makes it easy to open and close, and also keeps the babies and butterflies safe and sound until they’re ready to be released into the wild. I also ordered a magnifying glass so that I could keep better track of the tiny babies. I couldn’t wait for them to arrive!
After making the order, I kept a close eye on my babies all night and (after a sneak attack by our kitten Kayla) I made sure to close the door so the cats couldn’t get to them.
The next morning I went to check on my babies first thing, I was super excited. I noticed that the the monarch egg I collected was gone. I thought that it was either destroyed by Kayla (we call her “Kayla the Destroyer” – love her!), or maybe it died or something. I was bummed out at my first failed attempt to raise a monarch egg into a baby caterpillar. Oh well, I still had one baby to care for – and I knew how to find more.
But alas… a few hours later, I noticed the poop. Yes!! A new baby did hatch after all! I was too afraid to move the milkweed leaf because I didn’t know where the baby was, and didn’t want to squish it or lose it.
I didn’t have my magnifying glass yet, so I had to wait a few hours before I could easily spot the baby. Sure enough, a few hours later, there were teeny tiny holes in the leaf, and when I flipped it over, I spotted my new baby caterpillar.
Here’s a zoomed out photo of the monarch caterpillar baby so you can get a better perspective of how tiny it is. This is day 2 after hatching.
Here are my first two babies that I got from Julie’s house. They hatched only a few days apart…
Here’s another photo for perspective. That’s the tip of a regular sized safety pin. Now you can see why the brand new babies are so hard to spot!
I don’t grow common milkweed in my garden, and wasn’t sure if the monarchs would like the butterfly weed I have so I went hunting for milkweed. It was pretty easy to find because it grows naturally in the prairies all around my neighborhood. Sure enough, I found another egg, this one was just about to hatch. You see, right before a monarch egg hatches, the top of it turns black. This happens really fast, so it’s easy to miss. This guy hatched almost as soon as I brought it home.
As far as taking care of them, all you have to do is provide them with fresh milkweed every few days (more often once they get bigger though I’m sure). So far so good for me raising monarch caterpillars inside my house. Over the next few weeks, I will keep you posted on their progress via Instagram, Facebook and Twitter – and hopefully I’ll be able to write another blog post or two as well.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go fetch some fresh milkweed for my babies.
Have you ever raised monarch caterpillars inside? Share your experiences in the comments section below.
All close up shots were taken with my iPhone6 using the OlloClip 4-in-1 Lens. I highly recommend this simple-to-use lens that quickly snaps onto your phone. It has both the 15x and 10x magnification lenses, along with two other fun lenses to use with your iPhone.