monarch habitat Gaithersburg Md

Asked July 17, 2019, 10:35 AM EDT

i am a teacher and created monarch habitats. we found 6 eggs on our outdoor milkweed and placed all 6 in an indoor netted habitat. A few days later, we found 8 caterpillars on our outdoor milkweed. We left them outside. the 6 eggs on indoor habitat now have 4 healthily caterpillars. the 8 caterpillars that were seen on the outdoor milkweed are gone. What happened to the outdoor caterpillars?

i am worried that raising the indoors caterpillars will stunt the migration to mexico. we were told that current research states, “monarchs raised inside do not reach mexico”. We are also afraid to put them outside in our area for fear that predators may kill the caterpillars. I took the habitat outside in an effort to get the caterpillars use to the wind and the rain. They are safe in the netted habitat from predators.

I am going on vacation and was wondering if I should move them back inside? They were going great in the house.

Montgomery County Maryland

1 Response

You have some large and mature looking caterpillars there, congratulations.
We think that they will soon stop feeding and enter their chrysalis stage for a couple of weeks before they emerge as butterflies.
It is highly likely that the outdoor caterpillars reached maturity a little earlier, and then, as they do in nature, climbed off of the milkweed plant looking for a place to pupate.
You might consider taking a couple of tree branches and either stick them in the soil or lean them up against the side of your cage and they may use them. They will get very still and likely lean back on a fine web before entering their chrysalid state.

How long are you going to be gone and do you want to witness the metamorphosis and hatching?
If you are gone more than a week, we would keep them inside and put a saucer of cotton balls well-wetted with a sugar water mixture in with them.
Outdoors there are too many variables unless you have someone that can look after them.
If you are willing to miss the metamorphosis, the best thing for them would probably be to let them go in an area that is growing a natural stand of milkweed plants and other flowers and allow them to do as they will.

As far as your other questions, there are other experts that can best answer the latest research. Take a look at our pollinator page, including the resource links at the bottom here: