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Today I released the last of twelve wild monarch butterflies. Each year I plant their host plant, tropical milkweed, in my registered Monarch Waystation where females lay their eggs. A few days later, I find the tiny larva, raise them indoors until large enough to place back in the garden, then monitor their growth, protect them from predators, then return them to the safety of the house, where they form their chrysalises.

outdoors the larvae are protected from predation with paint sleeves that are twist tied at the bottom. There larvae can grow and eat in safety. Paint sleeves are cheap at any paint store and can be washed and reused season after season.

About nine days later, they emerge into the magnificent Monarchs we readily recognize. When these beauties are fully dry and active, I release them back into the garden, where they nectar on the milkweed and phlox, gaining strength for their long migration.

feeding the larvae indoors for a few days before they pupate safely in the lettuce container. They will safely emerge in 14 days when they can be released to the wild.

feeding the larvae indoors for a few days before they pupate safely in the lettuce container. They will safely emerge in 14 days when they can be released to the wild.

Feeding larvae indoors when really tiny or when they are ready to pupate

Feeding larvae indoors when really tiny or when they are ready to pupate

black swallowtail ready for release. Fun to have it in my office for glamour shots first…

Over the past four years, I raised over one-thousand monarchs and dozens of black swallowtails and handfuls of Fritillaries and Red Spotted Purples.

Monarchs are endangered therefore I do my part to insure that those who find my garden prevail while they are here. Fewer than 1% of monarch eggs will survive in the wild without help. When I began this hobby, I had an excellent teacher, who to this day continues to answer questions, that to the novice bystander, would seem bizarre. Check out her website at www.socialbtrflies.com.

This day is one of celebration, as 100% of my caterpillars emerged healthy. This day is also bittersweet, as I must bid my creatures farewell, never to know their ultimate fate. So fly strong and high mighty Monarchs. May gentle currents glide you to your winter home.

Butterfly Prayer

May you be happy and peaceful,

May you be healthy and strong.

May you be safe and protected from harm.

May you be at ease in your lives.

~ S. Laufer

Copyright © 2011 by Diane LaSauce all rights reserved