Raising Monarchs, 2019
Releasing the Adult Monarch
April 5, 2020

  After a monarch emerges from its chrysalis, the fun part begins: release!

The release, of course, is the crucial step. The whole point of raising monarchs indoors is to give adult butterflies better chances outside.

The first consideration of release is, When?

Home cube scene with monarchs ready to go
  It takes a monarch 4 hours or so after emerging before its wings are ready for flight. After that period comes further questions, such as How warm is it outside? and Is there sunlight? After all, who would want to release a monarch in the rain?

Our basic procedure on a warm, good-weather day is to transfer the monarch from its "birthing" cube to an outdoor one. The outdoor cube has nothing in it to trip a monarch up; it can walk about; respond to sunlight; and become active.

The transfer involves a gentle touch, which Sue excels at.

Monarch transfer to flight cube
  A couple of hours later and depending on weather conditions, the monarch is ready for release. Sue inserts her hand through the convenient door of the cube and gently "catches" the monarch.
Capturing a monarch for release
  Sometimes it takes several tries for a successful catch, but once in hand, the monarch is content to be carried in Sue's open hand.
Monarch traveling on hand
  As Sue raises her hand, the monarch climbs to the topmost position.
Monarch riding hand
  From the top of Sue's hand, the monarch decides what to do next.
Monarch positioning himself
  The monarch tests a slow wing flap and then . . .
Monarch flap
  . . . he is off into the sky and ready to begin his flight to Mexico.
Monarch liftoff
  This particular monarch chose a temporary landing zone to soak in a little sun before his next flight.
Monarch at rest
  In late August when it was quite warm outside, a few of the released monarch took flight without any problem. By September, when it was becoming cooler, a few monarchs did not fly at all well. Those we recaptured and kept overnight (along with a few blossoms for dining). On the second release the next day, those monarchs flew wonderfully well. One of them zoomed straight upward for about 50 or 60 feet and then headed south.

My final page on raising monarchs in 2019 had a few thoughts and photos.

My monarch home page  ||  and Pennsylvania butterfly page

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